Andrew Wakefield – Unethical Research

Ethics are custom to every day living. Recognizing ethics in his or her research is vital. “The goal of ethics in research is to ensure that no one is harmed or suffers adverse consequences from research activities” (Cooper & Schindler, 2011, Chapter 2, Ethics in Business Research). Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor, was accused of acting unethically during his 1998 research report, the Lancet. The General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that Wakefield was dishonest and irresponsible during his research and he had a complete disregard for the children in his study.

His behavior caused fear in parents, fewer children received their vaccines, and some diseases began to rise in countries. Wakefield’s inappropriate research has affected and endangered society. The scandal over the Wakefield research is still strong in Britain and the United States. Andrew Wakefield was a gastroenterologist at London’s Royal Free Hospital. In 1998, Wakefield published a research paper, called the Lancet in a medical journal. The Lancet claimed that the three-in-one measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was connected with autism and bowel disorders in children (Harrell, 2010).

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Wakefield research involved 12 children who were in the care of Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. No other researcher has been able to duplicate Wakefield’s findings and an investigation began on the scandal his claims caused. Brain Deer, from Sunday Times, investigated Wakefield research and he revealed financial conflicts of interest, misconduct, and unnecessary medical procedures on the children in Wakefield’s study (Braindeer. com, 2011). Wakefield also performed tests without the approval of the Royal Frees ethics committee.

Wakefield was one named a bright doctor and come from a family of doctors. However, the investigation into his research has branded him an unethical doctor. Andrew Wakefield was accused and found guilty of unethical research behavior. Such behaviors were performing aggressive tests on the 12 children in his study, without approval from the board and neglected the welfare of the children. Wakefield also paid children at his son’s party to take blood samples.

The board said Wakefield displayed a “callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer” (Jardine, 2011) Furthermore, Wakefield had a contract with Richard Barr, a lawyer that was trying to take legal action on the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine, and was being paid hourly fees (Braindeer. com, 2011) . Wakefield failed to disclose this information and it appeared he had motives to find evidence that would destroy the vaccine. It was a clear conflict of interest and should have been declared. Wakefield did not think about ethics when he was testing his participants or in his research.

Because of Wakefield study, the children involved in the research had to endear unnecessary and painful tests. Wakefield carelessly carried out the aggressive test on the children under his care and had no concern for the children or how they would be affected. His study also spread panic and insecurity about the vaccine along with causing parents of children with autism to feel guiltiness and blamed their selves for their kids’ illness. Wakefield’s unethical researcher has affected people all around the world. Britain’s vaccination rates, along with United States, plummeted after the publication of the Lancet.

Currently, the vacations have not returned to comfortable rates and measles cases have increased in Britain (Braindeer. com, 2011). Wakefield’s followers also started an anti-vaccine society on the base of Wakefield unethical research. The General Medical Council (GMC) in London ruled that Andrew Wakefield was unethical in his research. The panel labeled Wakefield as a dishonest and callous doctor. Wakefield paper, the Lancet, was withdrawn from scientific literature and he resigned from Royal Free Hospital. The GMC also ordered to erase Wakefield from the UK doctors’ register (Braindeer. om, 2011). Ethics in research is an expectation by researchers and society. Without ethics many unsafe or unreasonable studies could danger participants or others during a research process. Andrew Wakefield was a well-respected doctor who made headlines when he published a controversial study in the medical journal. Wakefield linked the MMR vaccine with autism and bowel disorders in children. His scandalous research paper, now discredited, caused fear in parents and a decrease in vaccinations in children.

Due to Wakefield public controversy report, an investigation was commenced along ith a trial against Wakefield and his co-authors. The GMC ruled Wakefield was unethical and irresponsible during his research. Without approval, Wakefield performed a painful test on disable children and paid young children for blood samples. Andrew Wakefield is now branded an unethical doctor. Supporters of Wakefield defend his research but his creditability was destroyed.


  1. Boseley, S. (2010, Jan). Andrew Wakefield found ‘irresponsible’ by GMC over MMR vaccine scare. Retrieved from http://www. guardian. co. k/society/2010/jan/28/andrew-wakefield-mmr-vaccine/print
  2. Braindeer. com. (2011). Exposed: Andrew Wakefield and the MMR-autism fraud. Retrieved from http://briandeer. com/mmr/lancet-summary. htm
  3. Harrell, E. (2010, Jan). Doctor in MMR-Autism Scare Ruled Unethical. Retrieved from http://www. time. com/time/printout/0,8816,1957656,00. html
  4. Jardine, C. (2011). GMC brands Dr Andrew Wakefield ‘dishonest, irresponsible and callous’. Retrieved from http://www. telegraph. co. uk/health/7095145/GMC-brands-Dr-Andrew-Wakefield-dishonest-irresponible-and-callous. html

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