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Managing information and compliance for responsible research

Gina Boyd (gboyd@rand.org) is a Contracts and Grants Administrator at RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh, PA. This work was conducted as part of the Health Care Compliance Graduate Certification program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Scientists, doctors, scholars, and policy makers devote their efforts to healthcare research in hopes of finding solutions and improving lives. It’s no exaggeration to say that healthcare researchers want to make the world a better place. As hard as they work, though, and as much as they care, research—and the data and information generated by that research—must be used responsibly in all its phases, which is something that can get overlooked. Whether through curiosity, zeal, determination to keep pushing for an answer, or desperation to find a specific answer; through more mundane things like forgetfulness or ignorance; or through unchecked cruelty and inhumanity of those in power, boundaries can be overstepped, which can bring harm in any number of ways to the very people the research was purportedly designed to help. The integrity of the research[1] and the researchers themselves—as well as their institutions’ reputations—can be diminished or destroyed. This article will discuss both ethical issues and public interest issues concerning the appropriate use of human-subjects research and the data and knowledge it generates, and then look at ways a compliance office can operationalize it to ensure consistency and reliability.

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