Excluding a Population: A Claim of Risks


Researchers propose to exclude women from the protocol on the basis of the claim that the research poses risk to reproductive systems.


Research on the neurotoxic nature of an aquatic food source in the Great Lakes region is developed in response to notification by public health officials of a possible link with a disease with high morbidity and mortality. As the research with human subjects is proposed, it appears that the sample of subjects who will be given larger doses of the suspected toxin will exclude women because of claims that there is a special risk (to reproductive systems) in them.

  • What are the consequences of excluding one sex from the research in terms of benefits, risks, research burden, generalizability of such research? 

Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant.

You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Scenarios for Ethics Modules in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society's code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.

Atwood D. Gaines. . Excluding a Population: A Claim of Risks. Online Ethics Center. DOI:. https://onlineethics.org/cases/scenarios-ethics-modules-responsible-conduct-research/excluding-population-claim-risks.