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Ethical context of nursing research
  1. Roberta Heale1,
  2. Allison Shorten2
  1. 1School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Yale School of Nursing, Yale University, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Roberta Heale,
    School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, ON, Canada P3E2C6; rheale{at}

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Nursing research is held to the same ethical standards as all other research involving human participants. Nurses need to understand and apply ethical principles to their own research, as well as to the reading and review of research. The Declaration of Helsinki in 1964 is a statement about ethical principles, initially applied to medical research, but which now guides all types of research. Of the three core principles, the most important is ‘respect of persons’ where the participants' welfare takes precedence over interests of the researchers, society or science. Safeguards to participants are paramount and include strategies to mitigate potential harm related to emotional well-being, impact on employment, financial or social status and more.1

The second core principle is benefice, where researchers should strive to maximise the benefits of research for the wider society while minimising risks to research participants. The final core principle is justice. In this case, researchers should …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.