Prepared by the members of the Research, Education, and Practice Committee
This statement is a guide to professional behavior for the members of The Gerontological Society of America. As members and/or fellows of this organization, we shall act in ways consistent with the responsibilities stated below irrespective of the specific circumstances of our employment and/or other professional activity. This ethics statement applies but is not limited to our relations with research subjects, colleagues, students, employees and society at large as we carry out our aging related work.
1. To those we study we owe disclosure of our research goals, methods, and sponsorship. The participation of people in our research activities shall only be on a voluntary basis and only on research projects approved by an appropriate institutional review board. We shall provide a means through our research activities and in subsequent publications and reports to maintain the confidentiality of those we study. The people we study and their proxies must be made aware of the likely limits of confidentiality and must not be promised a greater degree of confidentiality than can be realistically expected under current legal circumstances in our respective nations. We shall, within the limits of our knowledge, disclose any significant risks or limits of possible benefits to those we study.
2. To the individuals, families and communities ultimately affected by our activities we owe our respect for their dignity, integrity, and worth. We will avoid taking or recommending action on behalf of a sponsor which is harmful to individuals and groups we study and/or serve.
3. To our colleagues we have the responsibility to avoid engaging in actions that impede their reasonable professional activities. Among other things, this means that while respecting the needs, responsibilities, and legitimate proprietary interests of our sponsors we should not impede the flow of information about research outcomes and professional practice techniques. We shall accurately attribute the contributions of colleagues in our work. We shall not condone falsification or distortion by others. We shall not prejudice communities or agencies against a colleague for reasons of personal gain.
4. To our students, interns, and trainees, we owe nondiscriminatory access to education and training. We shall provide education and training that is informed, accurate, and relevant to the needs of our students and relevant to the needs of the larger society. We recognize the need to responsibly advise and mentor our students and to conscientiously supervise their academic and professional development. We have an obligation to inform students of their ethical responsibilities. We recognize the need for continuing education in order to improve and expand our skills and knowledge in substantive and pedagogical areas. Student contributions to our professional activities, including research and publication will be appropriately recognized.
5. To our employers and other sponsors we owe accurate reporting of our qualifications and competent, efficient, and timely performance of the work we undertake for them. We shall establish a clear understanding with each employer or other sponsor regarding the scope of our expertise and the nature of our professional responsibilities. We shall report our research, teaching and service activities accurately. We will prevent distortion or suppression of research results or policy recommendations by concerned agencies.
6. To society as a whole we owe the benefit of our knowledge and understanding of Biological, Cultural, Social, and Psychological Aspects of Aging. We should communicate our understanding of human aging to the society at large.
Gerontological research, teaching and practice pose choices for which we individually and collectively bear ethical responsibility. Since gerontologists are members of a variety of professional groups and subject to a variety of ethical codes, choices must sometimes be made not only among the varied obligations outlined in this statement but also between those of this statement and those incurred in other statuses or roles. This statement does not dictate choice or propose sanctions. Rather, it is designed to promote discussion and provide general guidelines for ethically responsible decisions.
Adopted by Society's Council July 13, 2002