1. Guest, the 'News in Brief' for the week beginning 23rd November 2020 is here.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Welcome! To read the Core Purpose and Values of our forum, click here.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Guest, NICE have published their draft guideline for ME/CFS, click here to read about it.
    Dismiss Notice

Trial By Error: Where Is Bristol’s Review of Professor Crawley’s Ethics Missteps?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Eagles, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. Eagles

    Eagles Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Trial By Error: Where Is Bristol’s Review of Professor Crawley’s Ethics Missteps?


    2 October 2019

    By David Tuller, DrPH

    I have repeatedly raised concerns about Professor Esther Crawley’s habit of bypassing ethical review in her research. This issue first came to my attention in connection with a study she conducted about whether school absence could be used to identify undiagnosed cases of the illness she has generally called “chronic fatigue syndrome.” In that study, published in BMJ Open in 2011, she shattered ethical principles by interviewing more than 100 minors and their family members without the typical oversight and scrutiny mandated for research with human subjects. She managed this feat by falsely claiming this research to be “service evaluation,” as I documented at length on Virology Blog. (The original post explains the distinctions between “research,” which requires ethical review, and “service evaluation,” which does not.)

    When confronted with clear evidence of the problem, BMJ Open obfuscated, dodged and dissembled in its efforts to deflect responsibility–as I documented in multiple subsequent posts. Instead of acknowledging the obvious, the journal accused me of inaccurate reporting. (I have requested an apology for this untrue allegation but have not received one.) So I brought my concerns to the attention of the UK Health Research Authority, the arm of the National Health Service that oversees the work of research ethics committees. As it turned out, Professor Crawley exempted at least 10 other studies from ethical review on the same questionable grounds. Perhaps in some of these cases it was warranted; perhaps not…
    inox, Annamaria, MEMarge and 26 others like this.
  2. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Perhaps we had better let pass that rather sweeping generalisation about the British culture of deference.
  3. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the update, @dave30th.

    Since Bristol University has just awarded Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre, an honorary Doctor of Science degree, I doubt we can get a rational review of the Crawley situation from the Vice Chancellor of Bristol.
    Annamaria, MEMarge, Forbin and 13 others like this.
  4. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    I get the feeling there are lawyers behind the scenes screaming at them to put nothing potentially incriminating in writing (basically, put nothing in writing), not never no how. And to take no action that might be construed as admission of previous wrongs. The future legal consequences of doing so likely being far more catastrophic than of not doing so. I'm sure their lawyers would be looking to potential legal actions against them in the future.

    I mean: What are the chances they do not consult their lawyers on these issues? And if so, what sort of advice might we imagine them giving? My bet is on them being told to stay shtum, no matter how nonsensical it might otherwise seem.

    In recent weeks in the news there is an example of somebody refusing to provide a written legal statement when it seemed totally weird not to. I'm sure legal advice played its part there also, with a similar equation in play. Cannot say more.

    Given these sort of campaigns tend to move through phases, I sometimes wonder what the next phase might be? Legal action would be a long way off and be vastly expensive if/when it happens. Yet there's a stalemate whilst these people keep hiding in the cupboards. (I'm pretty sure the same likely applies to BMJ, SMC, etc).

    I wonder if there is any kind of strategy in between, to rattle them out of the cupboard? I wonder if Steven Lubet has any thoughts on this. If I'm on the right track, or just way off?
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  5. Forbin

    Forbin Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    I wouldn't be too worried about the review's delay. I'm sure that top men are working on it right now. Top men.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019

Share This Page