RCT test subjects

One problem with conducting RCTs mentioned by McGoey and Grossman et. al is that some topics are nearly impossible to study. One reason is because the test subjects required for an effective study are the exact subjects who would be considered unethical to include. McGoey reveals a statement from the former chair of the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, who has expressed that if a person has something wrong with them, they are basically excluded from a study. Because of this, the usefulness of RCTs is questionable. Reading this reminded me of a paper by Louis Charland, wherein he established the phrase “Cynthia’s Dilemma”. Cynthia was a heroin addict studied by Charland. His paper exposes that clinical studies on heroin produce the following dilemma: if subjects are heroin dependent, they cannot be included in the trial, and if subjects are not heroin dependent, they cannot be included in the trial. Regarding the former, if a person is heroin dependent, they are likely unable to give proper consent. Regarding the latter, if a person is not heroin dependent, then they do not qualify as a test subject. It seems that if a study is conducted for an issue like drug addiction, and if the study is ethical, it cannot be very successful.


About kristavidechak

Philosophy PhD, practicing yogi, social worker
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