On April 18, 1979, the Belmont Report was first published in the Federal Register. Thirty-six years isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, but it is effectively the lifetime of the research ethics field, formally beginning as it did with the publication of the Belmont Report. We were curious how the application of the principles contained in the report has changed over that time, so we reached out to a few past PRIM&R Blog Squad members to get their thoughts.
We asked: How do you think people’s understanding of the concept of beneficence has changed since the Belmont Report was published? What has made this change possible? Secondarily, how do you interpret the concept of beneficence and apply it to your own work?
Wendy Tate, MS, CIP, PhD student at the University of Arizona: It’s interesting for me to comment on how the concept of beneficence has changed, as I was born after April, 1979. Also, I look at the issue from the perspective of someone whose work is focused in cancer research. An ever-changing landscape, cancer therapy is very different now than it was in 1979. With the knowledge of the entire human genome sequence and the advent of targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and our newest buzzword, precision medicine, many cancers are becoming chronic diseases rather than death sentences. It is estimated that there over 14 million cancer survivors, an increase from about 4 million people in 1979 (January 2014, NCI). With that shift, focus now is on minimizing toxicity while continuing to improve (or maintain) life expectancy for many cancers.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.