IRB: Ethics & Human Research

Health Researchers’ Ancillary-Care Responsibilities in Low-Resource Settings: The Landscape of Institutional Guidance

When health researchers conduct studies in low-resource settings, they sometimes anticipate or encounter ancillary-care needs that raise ethical questions about how they ought to respond. Ancillary care (AC) is health care that research participants need “but that is required neither to successfully answer the researchers’ scientific question nor to avoid or mitigate harm resulting from participation in the research.” The established definition encompasses care both for the condition under study and for other conditions. An emerging consensus in the bioethics literature holds that researchers sometimes have ethical obligations to provide or facilitate AC. What remains underdeveloped is formal guidance, as made publicly available by institutions responsible for funding and overseeing global health research, on how to delineate AC responsibilities. In this paper, in order to advance the development of high-quality institutional guidance, we survey the current institutional landscape, locate areas of consensus, identify gaps, and highlight exemplars. We conclude with some specific suggestions about improving institutional AC guidance.

Key Words: ancillary care, research ethics

Krubiner CB, Syed RH, and Merritt MW. Health researchers’ ancillary-care responsibilities in low-resource settings: The landscape of institutional guidance. IRB: Ethics & Human Research 2015;37(2):12-19.