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The Tuskegee Syphilis Study

From 1932 to 1972, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) conducted a clinical study that was aimed at observing and learning more about the natural process and history of untreated syphilis. The leakage of such a process resulted in numerous questions and criticism. It still remains one of the most infamous experimental studies of all time in the United States. This paper gives a detailed analysis of the ethical, legal, and health implications of this clinical trial.

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The researchers and agencies involved in this study violated several principles that are critical for any research process. First, such scholars and leaders failed to consider the implemented policies and guidelines regarding the inclusion of human subjects in medical trials. Second, they deceived the participants that they would receive treatment for syphilis (Paul & Brookes, 2015). Third, the concept of informed consent was ignored since these people were not requested to be part of the process. Fourth, the study targeted African American males from impoverished regions or neighborhoods. Such a move amounted to racial abuse and discrimination. Finally, they tracked the participants and ensured that they were unable to receive treatment elsewhere.

HIC and Hepatitis

It is agreeable that new experimentations such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study could take place today. Such an outcome is possible since the global community has partnered to identify individuals who might be having this condition (Yip, Han, & Sng, 2016). Within the healthcare sector, researchers could deceive their patients that they are receiving various treatments for their conditions while monitoring their health outcomes. They could also use control groups characterized by people who do not have the disease (Paul & Brookes, 2015). However, chances of identifying and exposing such studies are higher in comparison with what took place during the time of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.


Several unethical and illegal studies have been conducted in the past that have ignored the rights of the involved subjects. However, some stakeholders remain divided regarding whether such studies are beneficial or not. The acquired information could be important or applicable in different settings to treat patients and provide them with honest information (Paul & Brookes, 2015). While others believe that such experimentations are erroneous and unethical, the consideration of the acquired ideas could become a new opportunity to improve healthcare delivery (Anekwe, 2015). Additionally, such researches are important since they forced different agencies and governments to remove all loopholes and ensure that no other unethical study is completed in the future.

Data Use

Although this unethical study delivered questionable research data, it would be appropriate to rely on the acquired information and apply it in healthcare. The only benefit people can get from such a process is ensuring that the collected ideas are translated into better care delivery and treatment models that resonate with the demands of more people with syphilis (Paul & Brookes, 2015). Such insights could also be useful in guiding and empowering citizens to protect themselves against this sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, policymakers and government agencies will have to prevent similar studies in the future.


The above discussion has identified and described the Tuskegee Syphilis Study as one of the most notorious and unethical experimentations ever completed by mankind. The process was unethical, targeted minority citizens, and failed to advocate or protect the participants’ rights. While the acquired information and data could be useful in clinical practice, there is a need for future researchers and policymakers to ensure that similar studies do not take place in the future.


Anekwe, O. (2015). Artist’s statement: Tuskegee men. Academic Medicine, 9(5), 621.

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Paul, C., & Brookes, B. (2015). The rationalization of unethical research: revisionist accounts of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the New Zealand “Unfortunate Experiment”. American Journal of Public Health, 105(10), e12-e19.

Yip, C., Han, N. R., & Sng, B. L. (2016). Legal and ethical issues in research. Indian Journal of Anaesthesia, 60(9), 684-688.

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