My biggest ethical concern for my research proposal is confidentiality and privacy. The topic of mental health in Part 141 schools is particularly sensitive. All pilots who require a medical certificate to exercise the privileges of their pilot certificates must continuously meet medical standards. Many common mental health conditions, such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety, are disqualifying, and so are their medications even if you take those medications for a different non-disqualifying condition (Manworren, 2018). Unlike physical conditions, mental health conditions are far harder to diagnose, treat, and “clear” for fitness to fly. In addition, Current FAA regulations do not reflect the reality of the treatment of mental health conditions. For example, the treatment of depression usually requires a combination of medications. However, although the regulations allow for four specific antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), you qualify for a medical certificate with a Special Issuance only if you have not taken more than one of the four previously and if you have not taken any of them in combination with other psychiatric medication (Manworren, 2018). The information that my participants give me is valuable. I hope with this research to make some changes not only in the culture towards mental health in the industry, but also in the legislature and company policies. I need to protect my participants’ identities and privacy especially because they are students and they are pilots at the beginning of their careers. I might encounter a situation where I have to make a decision between safety and confidentiality. That will be a difficult call because, ultimately, I want to remove the stigma, fear of consequences, and underreporting about mental health in the industry.
Manworren, K. (2018). The FAA’s Mental Health Standards: Are They Reasonable? Journal of Air Law and Commerce, 83(2), 391-420. https://scholar.smu.edu/jalc/vol83/iss2/6
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