Expanding Ethics Review Processes to Include Community-Level Protections: A Case Study from Flint, Michigan

AMA J Ethics. 2017 Oct 1;19(10):989-998. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.10.ecas3-1710.


As the Flint community endeavors to recover and move forward in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis, distrust of scientific and governmental authorities must be overcome. Future community engagement in research will require community-level protections ensuring that no further harm is done to the community. A community ethics review explores risks and benefits and complements institutional review board (IRB) review. Using the case of Flint, I describe how community-level ethical protections can reestablish a community's trust. All IRBs reviewing protocols that include risk to communities and not merely individual participants should consider how community members are engaged in the proposed research and identify and respond to questions and domains of concern from community members.

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Community Participation*
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Disasters
  • Ethical Analysis
  • Ethics, Research
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Public Health
  • Research*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Trust*
  • Water Pollution*
  • Water Supply*
  • Water*


  • Water