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Ethical Issues Arising from Causing Children Pain for Clinical and Research Purposes

Prof. Ken Craig recently published a paper examining ethical issues arising from instigation of pain in children for clinical and research purposes. He states that "Unrecognized, inadequately assessed, underestimated and mismanaged children’s pain are widespread problems.  The challenges have led to calls for better understanding and management of pediatric pain.  While research efforts over the past decade have rapidly accelerated, there appears to be a problem with exclusion of children from pain research for a variety of reasons including a potential for overprotection, with investigators, ethics boards and others apparently feeling that studies were too aversive or harmful and presuming that children and their parents would not want to participate.  The Hawley et al. (2018) study examined the appraisals of children and their parents following participation in a study of pain assessment using machine learning algorithms generated by facial expression and autonomic activity during spontaneous and induced pain while in postoperative recovery from laparoscopic appendectomies (Sikka et al., 2015).  Generally, the children and their parents were positive about participation in the study.  It was noted that greater use of post-participation acceptability surveys would better inform those concerned about children’s pediatric pain research.  Ethical issues arising from instigation of pain in children for clinical and research purposes are examined."


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