Rethinking the Belmont Report?
Friesen P., Kearns L., Redman B., Caplan AL.
This article reflects on the relevance and applicability of the Belmont Report nearly four decades after its original publication. In an exploration of criticisms that have been raised in response to the report and of significant changes that have occurred within the context of biomedical research, five primary themes arise. These themes include the increasingly vague boundary between research and practice, unique harms to communities that are not addressed by the principle of respect for persons, and how growing complexity and commodification in research have shed light on the importance of transparency. The repercussions of Belmont's emphasis on the protection of vulnerable populations is also explored, as is the relationship between the report's ethical principles and their applications. It is concluded that while the Belmont Report was an impressive response to the ethical issues of its day, the field of research ethics involving human subjects may have outgrown it.