Research in therapeutic practice settings: ethical considerations
In the past few decades the climate in which we conduct therapeutic work has become increasingly pressurised by its financial cost. Thus the pressure is to determine which therapies are cost effective for different forms of psychological distress. This evidence base is collected from therapy-relevant research (i.e., data is collected from service users or their relatives and/or carers) carried out in a variety of different contexts including National Health Service (NHS) Trusts, voluntary organisations and universities. The different bodies that host or undertake therapy-relevant research have research ethics committees, which scrutinise all proposed research projects in depth to ascertain their ethical soundness with regards to research preparation and planning, recruitment of participants, data collection and analysis as well as the intended dissemination of research outcome. In order to ensure sufficient protection of vulnerable people’s safety, dignity, rights and well-being, research ethics committees, which are independent bodies (DH, 2001a) also need to assess the scientific value and social responsibility of the proposed research (BPS, 2011). This chapter will examine some of the ethical hurdles encountered in therapeutic practice research. Philosophical and practical conversations are frequent among those embarking on research in their training, as trainees can find themselves caught between the demands and expectations of a service adhering closely to one set of guidelines and a different philosophy in their training in clinical practice.