Academic journal article Research and Theory for Nursing Practice

The Wonders and Worries of Researching Vulnerable Populations

Academic journal article Research and Theory for Nursing Practice

The Wonders and Worries of Researching Vulnerable Populations

Article excerpt

Researching vulnerable populations opens new avenues of understanding and awareness. While needed and essential, investigating the health care needs of at-risk groups requires a deliberate and vigilant approach to protect their rights and welfare. Vulnerable populations by their very nature are susceptible to coercion and abuse. Susceptible individuals have been marginalized based on gender, age, race, sociocultural status, and limited access to economic resources (de Chesnay , 2005). Protecting the rights of women, children, minorities, frail elders, the indigent, pregnant women, prisoners, immigrants, and the mentally disabled involved in research investigations is not only required by federal regulations, it is the moral and ethical responsibilities of all nurse researchers.

Conducting research that addresses the health care needs of vulnerable populations challenges researchers to be knowledgeable of federal regulations, community values, and social and cultural norms, as well as appropriate educational intervention strategies. Moreover, it underscores the importance of a community-based health approach to address the health care needs of at-risk individuals within society (Flaskerud & Winslow, 1998).

This special issue of Research and Theory for Nursing Practice provides insight into the wonders and worries of researching vulnerable populations. Beginning with Drs. Frederickson and Levin's column on evidence-based interventions to reduce risky behaviors among inner-city youths and Dr. Redman's column on health care disparities among vulnerable populations, and culminating with Dr. Beattie's book review of ethical issues related to conducting research on children, multiple concerns are raised using both etic and emic approaches. …

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