The Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services (CBHRS) is a research center at the University of Alaska Anchorage. CBHRS's mission is the improvement of the behavioral and physical health of all human communities through research, evaluation, and training. CBHRS research is focused on research and clinical ethics, risk behavior prevention, exploration of the coexistence of substance abuse and mental illness, and healthy lifestyle choices. CBHRS has been funded through a variety of mechanisms, including grants and contracts from State of Alaska and municipal government agencies, non-profit organizations, tribal entities, private enterprises, and federal research and health services institutes, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health. CBHRS also houses the CDC-funded Arctic Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Regional Training Center.
Research Ethics in Correctional Settings
Research ethics and federal laws about human subject protections have evolved to protect research participants in general, and vulnerable groups in particular. According to federal law, vulnerable groups include:
• pregnant women
• fetuses and newborns
According to ethicists, vulnerable groups also include individuals who suffer from impairment due to:
• substance abuse
• mental illness
• stigmatized medical illness (e.g., HIV/AIDS)
• other debilitating disorders
Research with prisoners that experience HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and/or mental health concerns may present more ethical issues than research with less vulnerable populations. Despite the growth in research in correctional settings, there have been no empirical studies that look at:
• how researchers and IRBs interpret ethical principles and regulatory safeguards
• how researchers and IRBs apply ethical principles and regulatory safeguards when conducting HIV/AIDS or mental health/psychiatric research in prisons
CBHRS is home to two R01 grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health, focused on research ethics in correctional settings.
For additional details about these two projects: