Different types of clinical research are associated with different degrees of risk and with varying utility. Usually classified as therapeutic or non-therapeutic, clinical research involving children necessitates a balance between the conflicts of intrusion into a group of vulnerable subjects, and the obvious advantages which such intrusion engenders. To understand better the potential ethical dilemmas of paediatric research the author has expanded the classification of such clinical research involving children. Five types of such research--preventive research, curative research, research to alleviate symptoms, studies to establish norms and baselines, and curiosity research--are discussed in the context of their ethical constraints, and the different ethical questions which confront workers operating in each of these different themes.
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