For Patients: Coming soon… NHEW (22.02.2014)
Guess what’s happening in bioethics, from March 2 through 8… It’s the first-ever National Health Ethics Week in in Canada! It’s being coordinated jointly by the Canadian Bioethics Society (CBS) – of which I’m a member – and the Nova Scotia Heath Ethics Network (NSHEN). Organizations across the country will be participating, to raise awareness of bioethics, with the theme of “Health Ethics from Coast to Coast to Coast”.
So I suppose you’re wondering: “What’s a health ethics week?” Great question! Here’s the answer:
“National Health Ethics Week is a time set aside for health and educational institutions, health care professionals, community organizations, businesses and members of the general public, to host and take part in educational events that explore health ethics issues”(1)
For more than five years now, I’ve been working for a not-for-profit research ethics board (REB); a type of organization called an institutional or independent review board (IRB) in the US. The goal of any REB/IRB is to protect the rights of the individuals – often patients – who participate in clinical and medical research, as well as the integrity of the research data.
In my free time, I’m involved with an unofficial international group that’s looking at ways to improve health literacy. We met in post-graduate bioethics courses, and all have similar interests even though we live on different continents. I told this group about our inaugural National Health Ethics Week, and they all think it’s a fantastic idea – and are going to talk to folks in their areas of the world about launching similar initiatives. So someday we may have a Global Health Ethics Week!
In terms of my full-time work, I’m happy to report that I’ve obtained permission for our REB to participate in Canada’s first National Health Ethics Week. We’ll be putting up posters, and finding new ways to provide information about research ethics – in language that’s accessible to patients and research participants.
As it’s a not-for-profit organization, I’ve offered – in my free time – to write a few very brief pieces about research ethics; I’ll then donate them to the REB. I won’t post those pieces here on my blog; instead I’ll write some similar pieces on the same topics, also using language geared to research participants.
I’ll aim for one post a day, for research participants, from March 2 through 8; so check back here that week!
(1) Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards (CAREB-ACCER). Take Part in National Health Ethics Week, March 2 – 8, 2014. 02 Jan 2014. Web: