The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a well-known government based facility that presents a web site that keeps its customer base well informed on a wide variety of topics. Providing and gathering knowledge for doctors and patients, this facility and website serve as an investigator. This ranges from heath issues to the medicine used to treat. The NIH has been a part of history ranging from advances in penicillin to machines used such as the MRI. Also, NIH has funded and researched thousands of drugs and physicians to find cures and treatment. As a team we believe that the NIH has social, ethical issues, as well as goals that are met every day as a part of their social responsibility. “NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.” (USA.Gov, 2013)
NIH’s goals and their ethical principles
If everyone were afraid about unethical research, nobody will participate or volunteer. Without the research subjects, developing new medicine and treatments would be impossible. Because millions of selfless and generous research volunteers, the world has benefited from an array of medical advances in used today. Furthermore, Effective chemotherapy and radiation treatments have cured millions of people with cancer, such as breast, thyroid, pancreatic, and cervical cancer to name a few. Additionally, we have also benefited from numerous vaccines that protect from deadly disease, for instance, polio, measles, chicken pox, and the seasonal flu. Moreover, these medical advances have made it possible to increase awareness about nutrition and health lifestyles (NIH, 2013). The National Health Institute’s goals are to cultivate and promote “fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies and their application as a basis for ultimately protecting and improving health” (NIH, 2013, para. 1). In addition, their goals are also for helping support, and “renew scientific human and physical resources that will safeguard the Nation competency to prevent disease” (NIH, 2013, para. 1) Furthermore, they work tirelessly to “expand the knowledge base in medical and sciences to enhance the Nation’s economic well-being and guarantee a continued high return on the public investment in research” (NIH, 2013, para. 1). According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), before any research is started there are seven ethical principles the researchers must comply with. These principles help to clarify meticulously a coherent framework for assessing the ethics of any clinical research studies: (1) social value- the research or study must define how are peoples health or well-being will improve; (2) scientific validity- the research must have a hypothesis to be tested, and controlled; (3) fair subject selection- an abroad group of people must be selected , including age (over 18), gender, and race, not vulnerable or privileged; (4)favorable risk-benefit ratio- the research shows that the riskier the study the more ethical it is considered; (5) independent review- an external group must review the research and will approve it or denied it. This practice makes people believe the study is more ethical and unbiased. Also, this will minimize potential conflicts of interest; (6) inform consent- the subject must be mentally capable to understand the full disclosure of the research, the decision must be voluntary; (7) respect for the enrolled subject- the volunteers privacy must be protected, withdrawal from the study cannot be denied, and their health must always be monitored. The researchers have the obligation to treat everyone who volunteers in an experiment ethically and respectfully (Emanuel, Wendler, & Grady, 2000; NIH Clinical Center Department of Bioethics, 2012).
NIH’s culture and ethical decision making
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is one of the largest organizations in the world with regard to researching advancements in medicine and the improvement in delivery of health care. Culturally speaking, the NIH is as diverse as the population it provides services to. Therefore, the NIH encourages health care providers to become more culturally competent in order to assist them in improving the quality of services they provide. According to the NIH, (2013) “Cultural competency is critical to reducing health disparities and improving access to high-quality health care; health care that is respectful of and responsive to the needs of diverse patients” (par. 3). Possessing a better knowledge of the cultures a health care provider delivers services to will allow him or her the ability to provide a higher quality of care and enable him or her to remain ethical when critical decisions need to be made. Currently, the NIH is collaboration with other groups and organizations to help health care providers become more aware of the cultures they serve, which in turn, will provide better quality of care to all Americans (NIH, 2013). End of life is an area of health care the NIH suggests is especially critical with regard to culture and making ethical decisions (NIH, 2013). There are many different cultures in the United States that do not share the same point of view when it comes to a family members’ last wishes. An article called “Diverse decisions. How culture affects ethical decision making”, written by Wright, Cohen, and Caroselli explains the importance of cultural competence and ethical decision making at the point of a patients’ end of life. This crucial aspect of health care can be especially challenging to health care providers if they are not familiar with their patient’s cultural preferences. If not treated with the sensitivity a family requires culturally, the health care provider will likely encounter problems in assisting the family in arriving at an ethical decision that best helps the patient. As stated by Wright, Cohen, and Caroselli, (1997) “When these difficulties are coupled with ineffective communication related to cultural insensitivity or unawareness, the effects can be devastating” (par. 1). Few moments in life present as many challenges as the end of a family members’ life. Therefore, the NIH not only challenges its organization to become more culturally competent, it also encourages and assists health care providers to do the same, especially when assisting patients and their families in making the appropriate ethical decision.
NIH’s ethical values supporting our ethical values
The NIH has clearly stated that “turning discovery into health” is part of their mission statement. Supporting this ethical decision in the United States alone there are many individuals with chronic diseases or health issues. Therefore, it is safe to say that because the mission of the NIH is to find cures and treatments to better our nation is in correspondence with most. According to the NIH, (2013) “Nearly half of all Americans have a chronic medical condition. NIH research makes significant strides toward treating and preventing these long-term illnesses.” Along with promoting wellness, the NIH develops new technological tools to treat any or most ailments in the USA. They are always looking for bright and positive new recruits to help research and enlighten the NIH to provide answers to thousands of individuals who have questions. The NIH has conducted research and found that cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cardiovascular disease is on the decline because of the research they have contributed to society. Because of their code of ethics they are helping babies that are born today live to a common age of 79, a vast improvement from the last 100 years. NIH believes it “invests over $30.9* billion annually in medical research for the American people.” (USA.Gov, 2013) and posted under NIH budget they write “Research for the People”, a clear message that this company is high in ethical values. They plan on widening the research capacity of our country and foster exploration. For any individual finding treatment for loved ones or ones’ self goes hand in hand with the ethical beliefs of the NIH.
Social responsibility for NIH in the community
NIH has proven itself to be socially responsible for not only the community but the entire population. They have done research and contributed a vast amount of information that physician’s, staff, and patients alike use on a daily basis for personal or practice knowledge. For example, the NIH has provided hundreds of thousands of jobs to research new technology and to find cures ever the past years. In addition, “to directly supporting research, NIH funding spurs an impressive amount of spin-off economic growth in our communities, ranging from scientific equipment suppliers to biotech firms to businesses offering food and lodging.” (USA.Gov, 2013) So not only has it contributed to health of the population, but is has proved financial contributions to the population. It has contributed more than $62 billion in revenue. Because of NIH’s research it will have not only short term effects but long term ones as well. Employing over one million employees to do research and development, the NIH has made a vast contribution for jobs to those who do not have one. Providing tours and other means to understand what they do to the public, they encourage public awareness. Providing funds for over 130 Nobel prize winners that have created such instruments like the MRI, NIH scientists have paved the way for many and future scientists. The NIH expects “to expand the knowledge base in medical and associated sciences in order to enhance the Nation’s economic well-being and ensure a continued high return on the public investment in research.” (USA.Gov, 2013) Providing leadership for this frontier in medical research, NIH is constantly making new advancements. Keeping archives of all research done in the past 100 years, the NIH keeps these records so future generations can learn. In conclusion, the goals of the NIH are to provide medical research, for the population of the USA. Their goal is to find cure and increase the wellness of the surrounding population. Also, the NIH is made up of a culturally diverse population making it successful in finding, curing or preventing most or all ailments. Encouraging physicians to be more culturally diverse, is one of the NIH’s main goals because of the background in genetics and their diseases. Their ethical values support ours because we are all in the same country. Where thousands if not hundreds of thousands diseases are present every day, and as part of the population most would like to see research and treatments available. “Our practical wisdom must balance the shifting demands and possibilities that our changing circumstances present.” (Fremgan, 2009) Knowing our past is important as knowing our future. And the NIH has provided a sanctuary for both. As a team we believe that the NIH has social, ethical issues, as well as goals that are met every day as a part of their social responsibility.
National Institutes of Health, (2013). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/about/FAQ.htm
USA.Gov. (2013). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/ Wright, F., Cohen, S., & Caroselli, C., (1997). Diverse decisions. How culture affects ethical Decision making. Division of Nursing, New York University, New York. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9136346
Fremgan, B. (2009). Medical Law and Ethics (3rd ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database