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Ethical Considerations, Limitations, and Implications on Medical Care

Ethical Considerations and Human Rights

When researching human subjects, one should never dismiss ethical implications. One of the main requirements that should be met in such studies is obtaining informed consent to participate and submit personal data. In the case of this study, all the patients enrolled in the educational program would be aware of the study’s constituents, benefits for their health, and implications for the medical community. The right of each selected individual to accept or decline the proposal would be respected; no penalties for refusal would be implied. In the study, the ethical principle of nonmaleficence would be pursued, as the described intervention is non-invasive and helps reach educational and scientific objectives. The researchers are well aware of the impact that a breach of anonymity may have on a patient and promise to protect the participants’ confidentiality, which would also be communicated before the program starts.

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The authors would act in the participants’ best interests as the study would help them execute their right to health and education. For instance, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family” (n.d.); the said standard includes medical care. Furthermore, the concept of a patient’s right to health care encompasses their entitlement to both quality services and information (Beletsky, Ezer, Overall, Byrne & Cohen, 2013). The proposed educational program would provide comprehensive information on self-care that in turn, would help maintain a patient’s wellness.

Study’s Limitations

Given the study’s sample size (N=30), the question arises as to whether the results would be representative of the general population. Non-probability sampling may have its disadvantages; for example, it takes a more significant effort to make a meaningful generalization for the chosen method accounts for a rather qualitative than quantitative research. Since the participants would be consciously selected among those who would be willing to contribute, there might appear evidence of consent bias, which according to Groenwold, van der Graaf, and van Delden (2013), is an issue in non-randomized studies. Moreover, the results would only reflect short-term health outcomes, hence, generating a need for a longitudinal study. A greater sample would make research more discursive, and the results could be extrapolated.

In case the potential participants are referred to by medical facility staff, it is fair to assume that the occurrence may introduce selection bias as the employees would lean on their understanding to decide which patients would fit. One should also take into consideration the possibility of a volunteer bias. The participants that would give consent are more likely to be initially interested in educating themselves on self-care for their condition, complying with the guidelines, and research on their own. Lastly, the researchers deem measuring extraneous variables reasonably challenging. For instance, they would consider ongoing medication; however, assessing drug intake might not be objective, especially if the data is based on the participants’ answers and hence, their decision to reveal or conceal information.

Implications for Practice

Many patients are dissatisfied, readmitted to a hospital, or confronted with a condition aggravation because they fail to comply with the treatment plan. Medical practitioners are aware of inadequate health literacy, and although the necessity to tackle the problem is clear, the most effective approaches are yet to be found. The study’s findings would provide a comprehensive framework for medical practitioners (MPs), at least for those dealing with patients with congestive heart failure. Thus, MPs would gain more clarity on the ways information may be conveyed, be it in inpatient or outpatient care, high-intensity or low-intensity programs. Due to the tendency of the shorter lengths of stay, it is imperative that a medical practitioner provides guidelines concisely and effectively to foster self-management and independence in a patient.


Beletsky, L., Ezer, T., Overall, J., Byrne, I., & Cohen, J. (2013). Advancing human rights in patient care: The law in seven transitional countries. Web.

Groenwold, R. H. H., van der Graaf, R., & van Delden, J. J. M. (2013). How and when does consent bias research? The American Journal of Bioethics, 13(4), 46-48.

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United Nations. (n.d.). Universal declaration of human rights. Web.

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