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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


VAN DEN HOONAARD, Will C.. Re-imagining the "subject: "conceptual and ethical considerations on the participant in qualitative research. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2008, vol.13, n.2, pp.371-379. ISSN 1678-4561.

The conventional biomedical concept of the "human subject" is out of step with World Health Organization's (WHO) holistic definition of health. The "human subject" in international and national research-ethics policies is a highly individualistic, autonomous person, in contrast to WHO's holistic definition of the healthy person. Qualitative research, this paper suggests, offers a way out of this conundrum. We need to reconceptualize the human "subject" in line with WHO's holistic definition of health. The paper offers concepts of "research participants" derived from qualitative research as an essential way to reconceptualize the human "subject." Moreover, field work, or ethnographic research, as undertaken by qualitative researchers presents a useful way of gaining a fuller understanding of issues of health in a given population.

Keywords : The "subject"; WHO; Ethics; Health research; Qualitative research.

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