Who are they?

  • Human participants are the people that volunteer to be used during medical research by health care practitioners

  • Medical researchers depend on volunteers in order to test new discoveries in medicine, and without these volunteers it would be impossible to advance medical practice.

  • Human participants without a doubt are very important in medical research and there is need to protect their rights during research.

Current policies

  • Although there has been development in the field of medical research, the same cannot be said about policies aimed at protecting the rights of human participants in these studies.

  • Researchers continue to conduct medical studies on human participants while neglecting their human rights as well as human dignity.

  • The policies are narrow, and protect a limited number of participants. Such issues like dignity, body integrity, sovereignty in addition to privacy are ethical concerns surrounding the use of human participants in medical studies (Kapp, 2006).

  • Federal agencies are mostly accountable for ensuring the protection of human participants’ rights.

  • However, federal agencies are incapable of enacting more stringent policies that will ensure medical research volunteers’ rights are not violated.

  • Owing to the lack of regard for human participants, the ethicality, morality and professionalism of medical research is questionable.

  • Hence, the need for support from the executive and legislative arms of government in ensuring ethically responsible medical research is conducted, where the rights of human participants are given maximum consideration by researchers.

Why support policychange

  • The current policies on the protection of human participants in medical research are ineffective in ensuring participants are not exploited by researchers.

  • Medical studies that use humans have been on the rise and without proper policy changes to protect volunteers such studies will progress to neglect human rights and dignity.

  • In America, administrative regulations, professional policies and overall guidelines emphasized in the “1979 Belmont Report” act as the basis for the present system of protections. To date, these protections progress to apply to some medical studies, and not all. There are a lot of inconsistencies on the protection of human participants in research carried out by state administrations, organizations or industries (NBAC, 2001).

  • Thus, an all inclusive and effective supervision system is integral to fairly safeguard the rights and wellbeing of human participants whereas ensuring ethical, moral and professional medical research to continue (NBAC, 2001).

  • Policy change will ensure that participants have informed consent, which is protected and adhered to by researchers. The policy will mandate that the researchers clearly inform the volunteer how the research will improve medical practice. As a result, the volunteer is well aware of why and how the study will be conducted (Kapp, 2006).

  • The policy change will ensure that volunteers are safeguarded from harm that can be avoided, and where there is unavoidable harm, due compensation is given to volunteers. Hence, researchers cannot take advantage of participants by intentionally causing harm to their body (NBAC, 2001).

  • In conclusion, human participants are very important in medical research. Without volunteers, it would be impossible to make developments in medicine. Thus, policy change is required to ensure that a new independent oversight body with power over all medical research segments is implemented. The oversight body will supervise the actions of medical researchers and ensure that protect the rights of volunteers, while acting ethically and morally.


Kapp, M. B. (2006). Ethical and legal issues in research involvinghuman subjects: do you want a piece of me? Journal of ClinicalPathology, 59(4), 335-339.

National Bioethics Advisory Commission, NBAC. (2001). Ethicaland policy issues in research involving human participants.Retrieved from