ISSN: 0034-8376
eISSN: 2564-8896



II. The Research Ethics Involving Vulnerable Groups



Alejandra González-Duarte, Research Committee, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico.
Elena Zambrano-González, Ethics Committee, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico.
Heriberto Medina-Franco, Oncology Surgery Unit, Department of Surgery, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, México
Josefina Alberú-Gómez, Research Committee, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico.
Marta Durand-Carbajal, Research Committee, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico.
Carlos A. Hinojosa, Research Committee, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico.
Carlos A. Aguilar-Salinas, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism; Metabolic Disorders Research Unit, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City; Tec Salud, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Monterrey, N.L
Martha Kaufer-Horwitz, Research Committee, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico.


Vulnerability in research occurs when the participant is incapable of protecting his or her interests and therefore, has an increased probability of being intentionally or unintentionally harmed. This manuscript aims to discuss the conditions that make a group vulnerable and the tools and requirements that can be used to reduce the ethical breaches when including them in research protocols. The vulnerability can be due either to an inability to understand and give informed consent or to unequal power relationships that hinder basic rights. Excluding subjects from research for the only reason of belonging to a vulnerable group is unethical and will bias the results of the investigation. To consider a subject or group as vulnerable depends on the context, and the investigator should evaluate each case individually. (REV INVEST CLIN. 2019;71:217-25)



Keywords: Vulnerable groups. Women in research. Pregnant women. Low-income population. Low literacy. HIV and AIDS. Subordinates. Gender-diverse population. Informed consent. Research committee. Ethics committee. Institutional review board.