Medicine, Mind and Adolescence, 1993 - 1994 - VIII, 2 - IX,1

Philosophical and method logical aspects of research on health during adolescence

Elio Sgreccia, Maria Luisa Di Pietro

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By now a vast amount of literature has been written on research regarding teenagers' health and innumerable studies have been carried out, which have made and still make it possible to find out new aspects of a variegated universe that is often difficult to interpret.

The authors start by considering that the aim of this research is first of all, and sometimes only, to indicate a situation in which it is not up to the specialist of bioethics to evaluate the scientific methods used, which are usually sociological or psychological or medical. Therefore the authors wish to point out how the use of results obtained can be different according to the ethical precomprehension referred to.

In fact, even though every new study on health can be an opportunity to research the distribution and the frequency of a disease or certain behaviour and to formulate hypotheses of a cause/effect correlation, one can't help but stress how much truth can be influenced by various factors, not in the least by the concept of truth itself.

It is therefore a question of clarifying a priori which ethical precomprehension is being referred to and of not only discussing the ethics of the research itself but also discussing which ethics, and of taking one's reflection to a speculative level.

This is why after defining the concepts of health and of reproductive health that are being referred to, the various approaches in the use of data obtained from research on health (from the behaviourist precomprehension to the liberal-radical precomprehension, from the utilitarist precomprehension to the ethics of the person) are presented, and at the same time the various educative models that could derive from this are also indicated.

In fact the ultimate aim of every research on teenagers health should be that of facilitating an educative intervention, which is necessary in this particular period of life, characterized, as it is known, by internal troubles that are a result of the structuralization of the awareness of the Self and of the intensification of interactions with the external world.

And in the view of ethics of the person, the direction which is followed by the two authors, those who carry out research on health among teenagers can't help but take into consideration the commitments that they have with respect to society, to those who finance the research, to the profession and their colleagues, and finally, with respect to the subjects of the research themselves.

Elio Sgreccia, Maria Luisa Di Pietro: "Philosophical and methodological aspects of research on health during adolescence". Paper presented at the First International Congress of Adolescentology, Assisi, Italy, October 22-24, 1993.

Key Words: Adolescence, Health, Ethics, Truth, Research

Elio Sgreccia: Segretario del Pontificio Consiglio per la Famiglia.
Maria Luisa Di Pietro: Ricercatrice - Istituto di Bioetica, Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università Cattolica S. Cuore - Roma.

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