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Ethics has been identified as a central reason for choosing a stepped wedge trial over other kinds of clinical trials. The stepped wedge design uses phased implementation, which means that all arms of the trial receive the active intervention over the course of the study. Some groups receive it later than others, but the intervention is not withheld from any group. This system of phased implementation has been identified as ethically advantageous in two instances: (1) when the intervention is thought to be especially likely to be effective and (2) in emergency situations, such as research conducted during emerging epidemics. But despite the increased use of the stepped wedge design and appeals to its ethical superiority as the motivation for its use, there has been little attention to the stepped wedge in the ethics literature.

In this talk I will consider whether there are persuasive reasons to prefer or to require a stepped wedge trial. I will argue that while the stepped wedge is ethically permissible, it is not morally superior to other kinds of trials. To this end, I will examine the ethical justification for providing, withholding, and delaying interventions in research.

Forthcoming events

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Regulation of AI in healthcare: what should we expect?

Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Genomic secondary findings in inherited heart conditions: a recall by genotype study

Wednesday, 04 September 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Oxford Open Doors

Saturday, 14 September 2019, 12.30pm to 4pm

The Nuffield Department of Population Health will be open to the public as part of this year's Open Doors event. Find out how medical researchers use big data to answer important questions about human health around the world.

Pharmaceutical policies in the long run: reflections on 60th anniversary of the Hinchliffe Report

Monday, 11 November 2019, 9.30am to 5pm @ Merton College, Merton Street Oxford, OX1 4JD

Designing and Running Streamlined Randomized Trials

Monday, 13 January 2020 to Tuesday, 14 January 2020, 9.30am - 5pm