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Reimagining research ethics to include environmental sustainability: a principled approach, including a case study of data-driven health research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Gabrielle Samuel, Cristina Richie

Original languageEnglish
Article number108489
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Accepted/In press23 Jul 2022
Published3 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: None declared.GS is the guarantor. CR's research was partially funded by the Technology University of Delft/ Erasmus Medical College Convergence ethics project. Funding Information: This work received funding from Wellcome (222180/Z/20/Z). Publisher Copyright: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.


King's Authors


In this paper we argue the need to reimagine research ethics frameworks to include notions of environmental sustainability. While there have long been calls for healthcare ethics frameworks and decision-making to include aspects of sustainability, less attention has focused on how research ethics frameworks could address this. To do this, we first describe the traditional approach to research ethics, which often relies on individualised notions of risk. We argue that we need to broaden this notion of individual risk to consider issues associated with environmental sustainability. This is because research is associated with carbon emissions and other environmental impacts, both of which cause climate change health hazards. We introduce how bioethics frameworks have considered notions of environmental sustainability and draw on these to help develop a framework suitable for researchers. We provide a case study of data-driven health research to apply our framework.

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