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The term “research equipoise” has been coined to describe the genuine uncertainty that should exist about whether the intervention or control arm is better (Freedman, 1987, as cited in National Bioethics Advisory Committee, 2001).As described by the National Bioethics Advisory Committee (2001, p.Regardless of the specific approach, all study designs should be scientifically and ethically sound.
It may not be known whether plausible interventions are in fact effective, or whether the benefits of preventing or ameliorating the hazard outweigh the adverse effects of the intervention.
Moreover, with housing hazards, some effective interventions—such as moving a child to housing without the hazard—may not be feasible because of resource constraints.
A variety of study designs are used in housing health hazards research to obtain information on hazards and to test methods to reduce health risks.
The study design chosen by researchers depends on the aims of the study, existing knowledge on the topic, and the perceived magnitude of the hazard.
Observational studies may still be useful in determining if persons with certain baseline characteristics are more likely to experience the outcome of interest.
Even if the causal links between a housing condition and an adverse health outcome are established, however, it may be uncertain how to prevent or remedy the condition.
On these issues we point out how the perspectives of community representatives may differ from those of researchers.
Hence, the process of understanding and responding to the views of community representatives as described in Chapter 5 is also important for helping researchers clarify their ethical responsibilities.
If there are multiple contributing factors, it may not be clear which ones should be targeted for interventions.
Studies on asthma in children, for example, indicate that it is associated with multiple indoor pollutants, including settled allergens (cockroach, dust mite, cat and dog), environmental tobacco smoke, and mold or fungi (Institute of Medicine, 2000).