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Caroline Whitbeck Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Emerita Professor in Ethics Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve University More Posts
Parent Resource128
Post-Menopausal Women at Risk
Secondary Title Post-Menopausal Women at Risk


Author(s) Stephen G. Post

A scenario meant to stimulate discussion about the ethical issues that arise in randomized research trials studying the effects of hormones on thwarting Alzheimer's Disease in women who are particularly susceptible to the disease.

Author(s): Stephen Post, Ph.D.

The estimated lifetime risk rises from 20% to 40% for people who have first-degree relatives (a parent or sibling) with alzheimer's disease (AD). This study involves the first randomized double-blind controlled study of hormonal replacement in post-menopausal women at higher risk for AD because of first-degree relatives.

The informed consent form indicates that the protective value of hormonal replacement has not yet been firmly established. It is, however, widely known that hormonal replacement has other benefits for women, including the preservation of bone density. Furthermore, the protective benefits with respect to the onset of dementia have been widely asserted based on retrospective observational studies.

Why might a placebo control study be considered unethical in this context?

How should the risks and benefits of entering such a study be explained?

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Contributor(s) Caroline Whitbeck
Notes Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant. You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society’s code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.
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Year 2000
Publisher provided Keywords GENETICS Human Research Subjects Informed Consent Privacy and Surveillance SCIENCE
Publisher National Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center
Language English
  • Using Case Studies Bibliography


    This bibliography includes examples of different ways instructors have used case studies to introduce ethical topics to their students and resources for finding cases and incorporating them into the classroom.

    Author(s) Kelly Laas
    Year 2016
  • Added08/23/2006

    In this essay, Dr. Whitbeck outlines an 'agent-centered' approach to learning ethics. The central aim is to prepare students to act wisely and responsibly when faced with moral problems. She provides a number of examples and cases with descriptions of questions and directions for promoting student participation and stimulating thought and discussion.

    Year 1995
Cite this page: "Post-Menopausal Women at Risk" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 9/10/2006 OEC Accessed: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 <>