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Room with a rhinovirus? Blurring the boundaries between research and therapeutic space

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In the past, the Declaration of Helsinki insisted on a fundamental distinction between medical research (of no therapeutic benefit) and clinical research (carried out to gain insight into a patient’s condition and inform treatment). However, recent versions of the Helsinki Declaration no longer rehearse this distinction, instead recognising how experimental and clinical practices often and increasingly overlap. This paper argues that this same distinction might also be re‐thought within health geography and that much can be gained through exploring how spaces of health can be simultaneously research laboratory and therapeutic place. This is done in two key ways. Firstly, through an analysis of the Common Cold Unit, a medical research facility based near Salisbury in the UK that recruited volunteers by emphasising its qualities as a rather unusual holiday destination. Secondly, by a review of current work in human geography, medical sociology and anthropology that highlights the blending of research and clinical space. I conclude by considering some of the implications and challenges posed by the mixing of experimental and therapeutic space, with an emphasis on ethics, inequality and care.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, London

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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