Ethical aspects in placental perfusion studies: views of the researchers
Author/s: -Halkoaho, A. -Pietila, A. M. -Vahakangas, K.
Within the EU-project NewGeneris human placental perfusion has been used for predicting fetal exposure to food carcinogens. Within the work package of ethical aspects of the research, we studied opinions of the researchers (n = 23) who carried out perfusions of human placenta. Data were collected by focus group interviews (n = 12) and an open-ended questionnaire (n =19 of which 8 were also attending the group session) from scientists representing 9 different nationalities. Both types of data were analysed together thematically and with data triangulation. Studied researchers considered communication between all stakeholders extremely important. Good communication was considered a prerequisite for the recruitment of mothers to donate the placenta, as well as for the process of getting the informed consent. Voluntariness, confidentiality and societal meaning were mentioned as important by all studied researchers. Educating the hospital personnel was regarded as essential in order to provide the best possible information to the mothers. The researchers also pointed out that cultural aspects should be respected, and that in Western thinking placenta is mostly considered as waste. Some researchers suggested that current guidelines and processes for obtaining informed consent should be reviewed also from a cultural perspective. With the development of biobanks, the use of human tissues, including placenta will most probably increase in the future, and the awareness of ethical considerations both in legislation and in practice need support. Thus, continuous effort for better research ethics is essential and requires research on research ethics.