This chapter examines why research can give rise to ethical problems in any branch of medicine. It describes codes of ethics, randomized double-blind controlled trials, local research-ethics committees, consent, and special ethical problems of research in palliative care. Any kind of research involving human subjects is likely to raise ethical problems, but research in the palliative field is especially sensitive. Randomized clinical trials create the most ethical problems, but they are not the only research method. The consent of the participants is the key issue and must be handled with extreme care in palliative medicine. It may be possible to design randomized clinical trials that meet the ethical problems in palliative care, but practical difficulties of recruitment, compliance, and completion are likely to remain. Research on the non-autonomous patient is fraught with ethical difficulties, but it may be ethically permissible provided stringent safeguards are met.
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