Ethical Considerations

Any project which includes research that involves humans requires special ethical considerations. We have no desire to cause any harm physically, psychologically, financially, socially, etc. to our co-researchers or the subjects of our interviews, focus groups, surveys, and observations. As such we have referred to the Belmont Report to guide our ethical considerations. The Belmont Report outlines three major areas to consider to ensure an ethical project: justice, beneficence and respect for persons. In the following sections, we will answer several questions, which demonstrate that our research is just, beneficent, and respectful to all people who might be affected by it to the best of our knowledge.


The area of justice in the Belmont Reports seeks to emphasize that potential benefits and risks should be shared equitably among social groups. In the case of our project, any risks of research, which we believe to be minimal to none, will be shared among the caretakers, co-researchers, and members of the Langrug community, as well as anyone else, who participate in interviews, focus groups, surveys, etc. The Langrug community is the group that would also reap the most potential benefits directly. In addition, other informal settlement communities could benefit from this research because individuals there might face similar issues to which our potential solutions could be applied.


Beneficence in the Belmont Report attempts to answer the questions: will research harm research subjects and are potential benefits worth the risks involved? The potential benefits of our research are programmes to address public health and social needs in the Langrug community, and to develop generic programme proposals to work in other communities. We believe this is a substantial benefit that could improve community members’ physical health and emotional wellbeing. Additionally, it could improve career options for caretakers. In the case of our research, the risks have been minimized. There are no obvious physical risks to participating in interviews, surveys, focus groups, or observations of facility usage. Psychologically, we will work closely with our sponsor and co-researchers to ensure our interview questions are not offensive and do not infringe on any individual’s private matters, especially on sensitive topics like sexual health and domestic violence. Socially and professionally, no individual will have their data revealed without explicit consent from them, and even then all efforts will be made to keep data and responses as anonymous as possible. In addition, we will ensure that all participants in our research are aware of potential risks, may stop at any time, and participate voluntarily.

Respect for Persons

Within our research, we will attempt to ensure respect for all persons. The Belmont Report specifically focuses on protecting vulnerable research groups while maintaining their autonomy and respecting their personal choices. We have identified children and adolescents, people with low financial status, people lacking extensive formal education, and people suffering from illnesses, which have a social stigma, as potential vulnerable groups with whom we may work. To protect children and adolescents, we aim to ensure they are provided with age-appropriate information about their involvement and appropriate adult representation such as parent or guardian presence. Furthermore, all questions directed at children or adolescents will be tailored to their age group. To protect those with low financial status, we will not disclose any income or potentially damaging information, which could identify the individual. We will ensure that those involved are not led to believe they will benefit financially from participating in this research. To protect individuals lacking formal education, we will present all research and information about participation in research in an easily understandable fashion, e.g. verbally or visually as opposed to written and without superfluous vocabulary. To protect those suffering from illnesses with a social stigma, such as HIV/AIDS, no protected health information will be exposed without explicit consent. We plan to wait until we are immersed in Langrug before determining the extent to which information will be released (e.g. no connection between data and individual, changed names, or explicit identifiers).