When investigating the development of methods to prevent hyperphosphatemia and chronic kidney disease, a researcher is particularly concerned about the following ethical principles of study participants’ sampling, recruitment, and data collection and reporting. Through ethical research, one can ensure that the study’s findings are aligned with ethics and provide reliable and credible insights that would be relevant to such stakeholders as nephrologists, nurses, pharmacies, and insurance companies. Overall, nursing practice is guided by ethical guidelines and principles (Tollefsen et al., 2021). Therefore, it is imperative to outline the strategies of ethical sampling and recruitment, as well as data collection and reporting procedures.
The population to be studied within the framework of the proposed research on the development of methods to prevent hyperphosphatemia and chronic kidney disease will include individuals with a high risk of the condition and those already diagnosed. To yield viable and objective results, the population should be comprised of individuals representing different age, ethnic, gender, and social status groups. According to Gelinas et al. (2017), when conducting qualitative research using grounded theory or phenomenology, it is important to utilize an explicit sampling strategy to validate the choice of participants. Thus, to obtain valid qualitative data in the result of the study, the researcher should adhere to non-probability sampling strategies.
To create an inclusive sample, a researcher will utilize the non-probability sampling method. Indeed, as stated by researchers, when using the purposeful sampling method, the investigator “intentionally recruits participants based on population, exposure, experience, or outcome to obtain information-rich data relating to a phenomenon of interest” (Curtis & Keeler, 2021, p. 56). This approach will ensure that the sample is representative of the general population, given that the researcher obtains the information on the demographics of the general population and applies this information to the selection of participants. For example, when targeting the in and out-patients of a hospital, the researcher would include the representatives of particular ethnic groups, ages, and gender depending on the percentage of such population sub-groups in the general community.
Another significant issue in relation to participant enrollment in the study is the following ethical principles during the recruitment stage. Notably, the provision of equal opportunity for inclusion for prospective participants is essential. On the one hand, the researcher is interested in obtaining the most accurately representing sample that would yield the most valuable data pertaining to the study problem. Indeed, the problems with sampling and recruiting might have a negative impact on the overall results of the research inquiry. According to scholars, “sampling error limits generalizability and research accuracy (validity) by introducing bias into the study” (Curtis & Keeler, 2021, p. 53). However, at the same time, the recruited population should be enrolled based on the principles of equity which implies flexibility in the researcher’s sampling strategy.
To ensure that the recruitment is undertaken equitably, one should ensure that all prospective participants are treated with respect and equality, including those who might be potentially impacted by the study process or outcomes. As stated by Campbell-Crofts et al. (2013), “respecting the principle of social justice involves consideration of fairness and equity to all potential participants during the recruitment phase, specifically in relation to the burdens and benefits of the research” (p. 77). Therefore, explicit inclusion and exclusion criteria, such as diagnoses or risk of acquiring chronic kidney disease, age, ethnicity, gender, and social status, should be accurately applied to ensure equitable recruitment.
Moreover, another pivotal ethical principle that guides medical research is the prioritization of participant safety and confidentiality. Therefore, the recruited participants will be provided with all explicitly presented information about the study goals, methods, and procedures, as well as the type of data to be collected from the participants. As Kopac and Hlebec (2020) emphasized, the use of quality checklists throughout the study process might help researchers ensure that all ethical considerations are preserved, and the participants are guaranteed safety and legal protection in case of a breach of any of the ethical principles.
Thus, when collecting consent, each participant, whether recruited face-to-face or through online channels, will be sent an email or given a physical document of written informed consent with all the specifications of the study listed and explained (Gelinas et al., 2017). The participants will need to sign the document to validate their agreement to participate on ethical terms.
When collecting data, the researcher will deal with the vulnerable population of individuals at risk or diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. To ensure the ethicality of the inquiry, the principles of non-maleficence, beneficence, and autonomy should be followed. The data that will be collected will include participants’ age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, health condition, laboratory results, and outcomes of the administered procedures under the study goals. According to academic literature and the code of nursing ethics, researchers are ethically responsible “to ensure that people who have chosen not to participate have the same rights as those who have chosen to participate, and therefore do not suffer any disadvantage as a result of their refusal” (Campbell-Crofts et al., 2013, p. 76).
Therefore, if a participant withdraws from the study, the researcher will ensure that a “decision to decline to participate will have no bearing on the potential participant’s ongoing kidney health care” (Campbell-Crofts et al., 2013, p. 76). Communication with the participant should be initiated to provide them with a professional nursing attitude that would demonstrate the availability of health care to the participant regardless of their reluctance to participate.
Medical research commonly involves the processing of sensitive data pertaining to people’s health status and chronic conditions. Apart from the fact that all information concerning one’s health is confidential, some conditions might bear a more significant burden of sensitivity due to the particularities of the condition and their perception by society. Chronic kidney disease is a case where “the impact of uremia is recognized as an independent risk factor for cognitive impairment and is known to affect decision-making capacity” (Campbell-Crofts et al., 2013, p. 77). Therefore, it is essential to follow the principle of confidentiality when reporting the study results.
For that matter, the researcher will no mention participants’ names or any information that might hint at their identity. The participants will be referred to as Participant 1, Participant 2, and so on. It will be ensured that no personal information is disclosed neither during nor after the inquiry to guarantee respect for participant confidentiality.
Conclusively, when conducting medical research, nursing practitioners should ensure that they follow the nursing code of ethics accurately. At the stages of sampling and recruiting, explicit strategies should be used to ensure equity and inclusion. During the stages of data collection and findings reporting, the researcher should follow the principles of non-maleficence, beneficence, autonomy, and confidentiality. In such a manner, the process of inquiry will be ethical, and the results will be credible and unbiased.
Campbell-Crofts, S., Field, J., & Fetherstonhaugh, D. (2013). Ethical considerations for nurses undertaking research with a potentially vulnerable population with chronic kidney disease. Renal Society of Australasia Journal, 9(2), 74-79.
Curtis, A. C., & Keeler, C. (2021). Sampling design in nursing research. The American Journal of Nursing, 121(3), 53-57.
Gelinas, L., Pierce, R., Winkler, S., Cohen, I. G., Lynch, H. F., & Bierer, B. E. (2017). Using social media as a research recruitment tool: Ethical issues and recommendations. The American Journal of Bioethics, 17(3), 3-14.
Gentles, S. J., Charles, C., Ploeg, J., & McKibbon, K. A. (2015). Sampling in qualitative research: Insights from an overview of the methods literature. The Qualitative Report, 20(11), 1772-1789.
Kopac, G., & Hlebec, V. (2020). Quality guidelines for mixed methods research in intervention studies: A conceptual model. Advances in Methodology & Statistics 17(2), 1-29.
Tollefsen, A. S., Olsen, A. B., & Clancy, A. (2021). Nurses’ experiences of ethical responsibility: A hermeneutic phenomenological design. Nordic Journal of Nursing Research, 41(1), 34-41.