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Keywords:

  • consent;
  • ethics;
  • harm;
  • principles;
  • research

Abstract

This paper explores some ethical conflicts that may arise in physiotherapy-related research, focusing particularly on the issues of informed consent and avoidance of harm. These central issues in research ethics are defined and related to fundamental moral principles such as respect for autonomy, respect for persons and non-maleficence, and their implications are examined through a set of hypothetical case studies, encompassing both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. It is argued that these ethical requirements may legitimately be traded off against each other, so that a prima facie need to gain informed consent or to avoid a risk of harm to participants may — within certain limits — be outweighed by other ethical requirements. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.