Ensuring respect for persons when recruiting junior enlisted personnel for research

Mil Med. 2007 Mar;172(3):250-3. doi: 10.7205/milmed.172.3.250.


Junior enlisted personnel in the Navy at training commands or recruit depots who are recruited for research can be considered a "captive audience" and therefore require special precautions to ensure that the ethical principle of respect for persons is maintained. Unfortunately, this can be difficult because of the hierarchical structure of the military and closed communities of junior enlisted personnel at training commands and recruit depots. This article provides a theoretical discussion of the ethical issue of autonomy and the essential elements of informed consent that Navy researchers need to address when recruiting subjects from this population. Two relevant policy statements to Navy researchers, Department of Defense Directive 3216.2 and Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Instruction 3900.6B, which provide guidance for protection of human subjects, are reviewed and critiqued, and a suggested plan to ensure the ethical principle of respect for persons is presented.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Community Participation
  • Hierarchy, Social
  • Human Experimentation / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Naval Medicine / ethics*
  • Patient Selection / ethics*
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • United States