Internet-connected devices are changing the way people live, work, and relate to one another. For prevention scientists, technological advances create opportunities to promote the welfare of human subjects and society. The challenge is to obtain the benefits while minimizing risks. In this article, we use the guiding principles for ethical human subjects research and proposed changes to the Common Rule regulations, as a basis for discussing selected opportunities and challenges that new technologies present for prevention science. The benefits of conducting research with new populations, and at new levels of integration into participants’ daily lives, are presented along with five challenges along with technological and other solutions to strengthen the protections that we provide: (1) achieving adequate informed consent with procedures that are acceptable to participants in a digital age; (2) balancing opportunities for rapid development and broad reach, with gaining adequate understanding of population needs; (3) integrating data collection and intervention into participants’ lives while minimizing intrusiveness and fatigue; (4) setting appropriate expectations for responding to safety and suicide concerns; and (5) safeguarding newly available streams of sensitive data. Our goal is to promote collaboration between prevention scientists, institutional review boards, and community members to safely and ethically harness advancing technologies to strengthen impact of prevention science.
- Common rule regulations
- Human subjects
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health