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Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: Nurse Rivers, Silence and the Meaning of Treatment

Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: Nurse Rivers, Silence and the Meaning of Treatment ARTICLES Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Nurse Rivers, Silence and the Meaning of Treatment Women's Studies Department Wellesley College More than twenty-five years after its widespread public exposure, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study continues to stand as the prime American example of medical arrogance, nursing powerlessness, abusive state power, bureaucratic inertia, unethical behavior and racism in rcsemch. For historians of nursing and medicine, the so-called study's complexities still remain a site for continued reexamination as new primary research is explored and changing analytic frames arc appIied. The study was a forty-year (1932-72) "txpsrimcnc" by the US. Public Health Service (PHs) to study "untreated syphilis in the maIe Negro" by not telling, nor suppasully treating, its 399 "subjects" for their disease.'The men, however, thought they were being treated, not studied, for their *bad blood," a term used in the Black community to encompass syphilis, gonorrhea, and anemias, The study is often seen as a morality tale for many among the African American publicand rhe nursinghedicd reseaFch community, suving as our most horrific example ofa racist "scandaous story. . . when government doctors phyed God and science went mad," as one publisher's publicity would have it? This story has been told and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nursing History Review Springer Publishing

Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: Nurse Rivers, Silence and the Meaning of Treatment

Nursing History Review , Volume 7 (1): 26 – Jan 1, 1999

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Publisher
Springer Publishing
ISSN
1062-8061
eISSN
1938-1913
DOI
10.1891/1062-8061.7.1.3
Publisher site
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Abstract

ARTICLES Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Nurse Rivers, Silence and the Meaning of Treatment Women's Studies Department Wellesley College More than twenty-five years after its widespread public exposure, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study continues to stand as the prime American example of medical arrogance, nursing powerlessness, abusive state power, bureaucratic inertia, unethical behavior and racism in rcsemch. For historians of nursing and medicine, the so-called study's complexities still remain a site for continued reexamination as new primary research is explored and changing analytic frames arc appIied. The study was a forty-year (1932-72) "txpsrimcnc" by the US. Public Health Service (PHs) to study "untreated syphilis in the maIe Negro" by not telling, nor suppasully treating, its 399 "subjects" for their disease.'The men, however, thought they were being treated, not studied, for their *bad blood," a term used in the Black community to encompass syphilis, gonorrhea, and anemias, The study is often seen as a morality tale for many among the African American publicand rhe nursinghedicd reseaFch community, suving as our most horrific example ofa racist "scandaous story. . . when government doctors phyed God and science went mad," as one publisher's publicity would have it? This story has been told and

Journal

Nursing History ReviewSpringer Publishing

Published: Jan 1, 1999

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