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Open Access Review

The paucity of ethical analysis in allergology

Jason Behrmann

Author Affiliations

Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, McGill University, 3487 Peel Street, 2nd floor, Montréal H3A 1W7, Canada

Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2013, 9:5  doi:10.1186/1710-1492-9-5

Published: 7 February 2013

Abstract

While a growing body of research is uncovering the aetiology and effective treatments for allergy, research that assess the broader ethical implications of this disease is lacking significantly. This article will demonstrate both the paucity of academic research concerning ethical implications in allergy and explain why ethical analysis is integral to formulating effective health strategies for allergic disease. An exhaustive literature search of publications in French and English identified less than 35 academic articles focussed on the topic of ethics and allergy; this is a miniscule number when compared to the amount of articles published on ethical issues related to other chronic illnesses, such as obesity. It is important to demonstrate to allergy specialists the need for, and utility of, further incorporating ethical analyses in allergology; the current success of Ethical, Legal, Social Implications (ELSI) research programmes in human genetics and nanotechnology will serve as notable examples. Indeed, future research and innovation in allergy will undoubtedly encounter ethical dilemmas and the allergology community should play a significant role in helping to address these issues. However, incorporating ethical analyses in allergology does not imply that the allergology community must acquire extensive knowledge in bioethics; instead, interdisciplinary research that incorporates expertise from allergology and bioethics would enable allergy specialists to advance critical knowledge development in this largely overlooked domain of study.

Keywords:
Allergy; Asthma; Ethics; Literature review; Health policy; ELSI; Knowledge transfer