Without Informed Consent

Without Informed Consent

Sara Belfrage
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2931-8.ch020
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The requirement of always obtaining participants’ informed consent in research with human subjects cannot always be met, for a variety of reasons. This paper describes and categorises research situations where informed consent is unobtainable. Some of these kinds of situations, common in biomedicine and psychology, have been previously discussed, whereas others, for example, those more prevalent in infrastructure research, introduce new perspectives. The advancement of new technology may lead to an increase in research of these kinds. The paper also provides a review of methods intended to compensate for lack of consent, and their applicability and usefulness for the different categories of situations are discussed. The aim of this is to provide insights into one important aspect of the question of permitting research without informed consent, namely, how well that which informed consent is meant to safeguard can be achieved by other means.
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Informed consent is commonly viewed as a necessary but insufficient condition for permissible research where human beings are involved. It is necessary in order to ensure that people do not participate in research against their will. It is insufficient because people should not participate in research projects that do not pass the scrutiny of research ethics committees (ascertaining, in addition to participants’ consent, that they are not exposed to great risks of harm, do not participate in projects with low scientific value etc.) even if they would accept to participate in such research.

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