Ethical Issues in Adolescent Consent for Research
Nursing Ethics 2003 September; 10(5): 504-511
Different opinions are expressed in the literature regarding when children and adolescents can start to make decisions to participate in research and give informed consent. Nurses are frequently involved in research, either as investigators or caregivers, and must therefore have a thorough understanding of consent and related issues. In this article the issues are explored from a Canadian perspective. The argument is put forward that adolescents may be capable of a greater involvement in the research consent process than is the norm. Increasing adolescents' involvement in research has the potential to enhance their growing autonomy and capabilities. Adolescents appreciate being treated with respect and dignity by adults. This can be achieved in an environment in which protection from harm does not also mean prevention from decision making. The use of empowering processes by nurses to enhance adolescent involvement will provide benefit to adolescents in their transition to adult levels of responsibility.
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