Background: The health information needs of developing countries increasingly include population-based estimates determined by biological and physiological measures. Collection of data on these biomarkers requires careful reassessment of ethical standards and procedures related to issues of safety, informed consent, reporting, and referral policies. This paper reviews the survey practices of health examination surveys that have been conducted in developed nations and discusses their application to similar types of surveys proposed for developing countries. Discussion: The paper contends that a unitary set of ethical principles should be followed for surveys around the world that precludes the danger of creating double standards (and implicitly lowers standards for work done in developing countries). Global ethical standards must, however, be interpreted in the context of the unique historical and cultural context of the country in which the work is being done. Factors that influence ethical considerations, such as the relationship between investigators in developed and developing countries are also discussed. Summary: The paper provides a set of conclusions reached through this discussion and recommendations for the ethical use of biomarkers in populations-based surveys in developing countries.
- Ethical standards
- Less developed countries
- Population based health surveys
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health