Person-Oriented Research Ethics and Dementia:The Lack of Consensus

Olivia Silva, M. Ariel Cascio, Eric Racine


Research ethics extends beyond obtaining initial approval from research ethics boards. The previously established person-oriented research ethics framework provides guidelines for understanding ongoing ethics throughout the tasks of a research project, in a variety of research contexts. It focuses primarily on the relational and experiential aspects of research ethics, organized around five guideposts: (1) focus on researcher-participant relationships; (2) respect for holistic personhood; (3) acknowledgment of lived world; (4) individualization; and (5) empowerment in decision-making. Given the widespread impact of dementia and the ethical challenges dementia research presents, conducting meaningful, ethical research is of high importance. This review explores this person-oriented framework in the context of dementia by examining existing literature on ethics practices in dementia research. We use a critical interpretive literature review to examine publications from 2013 to 2017 for content related to the five guideposts of person-oriented research ethics. While there is much literature addressing the relational and experiential aspects of research ethics, there is a lack of unanimous conclusions and concrete suggestions for implementation. We compiled practical recommendations from the literature, highlighting tensions and suggesting furthering evidence-based ethics research fieldwork to construct an accessible, easy-to-use set of guidelines for researchers that will assist in putting person-oriented research ethics into practice in dementia research.


research ethics; bioethics; dementia; selfhood; empowerment; autonomy

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