In this St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, Dr Nina Hallowell discusses the importance of therapeutic optimism in clinical research.
Hope, or therapeutic optimism, is an important aspect of the provision and experience of medical care. The role of therapeutic optimism in clinical research has been briefly discussed within the empirical and bioethics literature, but the concept, and whether it can be transferred from care to research and from patients to clinicians, has not been fully investigated. Interviews with clinical staff involved in a peripartum randomised placebo-controlled trial– the Got-it trial - revealed that therapeutic optimism has an important role to play facilitating clinical staff engagement with trial work. In this paper I will unpack the concept of therapeutic optimism in trial settings, describe how it is sustained in practice and outline some of the ethical risks and benefits.