Ethical considerations in recruiting primary care patients to research studies

barton-afpThis paper on the ethics of recruiting primary care patients into research was published in Australian Family Physician. (PDF)

Barton C, Tam CWM, Abbott P, Liaw S. Ethical considerations in recruiting primary care patients to research studies. Australian family physician 2016;45:144-8.



How patients are selected and subsequently invited to take part in research has important implications for gaining informed, voluntary consent.


This article identifies and discusses common ethical issues that are faced by researchers when recruiting patients from primary care settings.


Recruiting primary care patients for research studies should be guided by the core ethical values of merit and integrity, respect, justice and beneficence. Issues of patient privacy and risk of coercion are major concerns when selecting and recruiting primary care patients, but the ethical issues will depend on the type of research and the potential risks to participants. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, and Australian privacy laws and principles, should be reviewed to ensure recruitment meets contemporary ethical standards prior to submitting a study protocol for ethical review.

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