Tuskegee Study







Overviewof the study

Inthe year 1932, working with Tuskegee Institute, the Public Healthservice begun studying the syphilis natural history with hopes tojustify treatment program. The study, therefore, was called the“Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis in the Negro male.” Thestudy involved black men who were suspected to contain the disease(Reverby, 2009). Initially, about 600 black men of which 399men hadsyphilis, and 201 who did not show any sign of the disease.Surprisingly, the study that was carried did not put intoconsideration the benefit of patients’ informed consent. Accordingto the source, the researchers were telling patients that they havebad blood hence they were treating “bad blood” which was a localterm used to describe many ailments such as syphilis, fatigue, andanemia (Reverby, 2009).


Despiteall false allegation of treating the patient the reality was thatthey were never given the right medication for their ailment.While there was no monetary appreciation for getting involved in theexercise, the benefits the participants obtained included burialinsurance, free meals as well as free medical attention.Thelocated period for the study was scheduled to last for 6months, butit extended up to approximately 40 years (Gray, 1998).


In1972, the Tuskegee story caused a public outcry hence it led to theformation of the panel to investigate the study. The panel formed toinvestigate the matter noticed that the infected participants decidedto take part on their own accord. Equally, evidence suggesting acommunication of the study risks to the participants was missing. Itclaimed that people were misled, and there was no evidence to provethe informed consent. Worse men were not given treatment despite thenew cure penicillin was found to treat syphilis (1947). Lastly, thepanel also found nothing to show that the subject could exit thestudy at any time of his/her convenience even at the instance wherethe extended use of the effective treatment was eminent (Gray, 1998).


Theverdict of theboarddetermined that the research was unjustified ethically given that theinformation obtained in comparison to the risks involved were notcommensurate, especially given that the subjects were alreadyinfected individuals.The panel recommended for an immediate closure of the study leadingto an end of .


Theresearch was unethical by Institutional Review Board (IRB) standards.From the standard set by Institutional Review Board (IRB) example useof human beings as vectors is unethical. The standard protectsinvolving human beingsfor instance only the unpaid approval of the human subjects isessential and from Tuskegee, black men were deceived. The researcherdid not get consent to use black men in their study, hence makes itunethical (Jones, 1981).

Secondly,the study did not consider ethical principle stated in IRB. Forinstance respect for the person that they did not, beneficence thatthe subjects did not even benefited from the study despite the reallycure was found and lastly justice, there was no justice in selectingthe subject for studies. The Tuskegee study used only Negro men tocarry out their research despite another race was also facing thesame problem. The above standards made the Tuskegee study to beunethical per IRB regulations (IRB Guide Book, 1993).


Thestudy would conduct different not only using human beings but byextracting blood from those affected by informed consent. Also,ethical principles should be kept into consideration for the fair andmore so subjects’ knowledge. In conclusion, the study punishedhuman subject with false promises. It would be better to haverespected human dignity and ethics (Jones, 1981).


Gray,F. (1998). TheTuskegee Syphilis Study.Montgomery, Ala.: New South Books.

IRBGuide Book. (1993). Institutionalreview board guidebook.Retrieved fromhttp://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/archive/irb/irb_introduction.htm

Jones,J. (1981). Badblood.New York: Free Press.

Reverby,S. (2009). ExaminingTuskegee.Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.