Principles for Those in Research and Experimentation

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World Medical Association



Formulated by the Committee on Medical Ethics and adopted by the Eighth General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA), this document is the first set of guidelines governing research issued by the WMA and is the historical predecessor of the Declaration of Helsinki.

  1. Scientific and Moral Aspects of Experimentation
    The word experimentation applies not only to experimentation itself but also to the experimenter. An individual cannot and should not attempt any kind of experimentation. Scientific qualities are indisputable and must always be respected. Likewise, there must be strict adherence to the general rules of respect of the individual.
  2. Prudence and Discretion in the Publication of the First Results of Experimentation
    This principle applies primarily to the medical press and we are proud to note that in the majority of cases this rule has been adhered to by the editors of our journals. Then there is the general press which does not in every instance have the same rules of prudence and discretion as the medical press. The World Medical Association draws attention to the detrimental effects of premature or unjustified statements. In the interest of the public, each national association should consider methods of avoiding this danger.
  3. Experimentation on Healthy Subjects
    Every step must be taken in order to make sure that those who submit themselves to experimentation be fully informed. The paramount factor in experimentation on human beings is the responsibility of the research worker and not the willingness of the person submitting to the experiment.
  4. Experimentation on Sick Subjects
    Here it may be that in the presence of individual and desperate cases one may attempt an operation or a treatment of a rather daring nature. Such exceptions will be rare and require the approval either of the person or his next of kin. In such a situation it is the doctor's conscience which will make the decision.
  5. Necessity of Informing the Person Who Submits to Experimentation of the Nature of the Experimentation, the Reasons for the Experiment, and the Risks Involved
    It should be required that each person who submits to experimentation be informed of the nature of, the reason for, and the risk of the proposed experiment. If the patient is irresponsible, consent should be obtained from the individual who is legally responsible for the individual. In both instances, consent should be obtained in writing.

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Principles for Those in Research and Experimentation

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Principles for Those in Research and Experimentation