Practices for protecting human research subjects with Alzheimer's disease and other conditions that make them incapable of giving informed consent are widely variable and in need of more concrete ethical and legal guidance, according to a study in IRB: Ethics & Human Research.
The findings are significant for several reasons. First of all, the authors write, many countries have made research on dementia a national health priority and launched clinical trials that involve people who are, or are likely to become, cognitively impaired. These trials increasingly involve invasive interventions which may pose more than minimal risk. And yet throughout the world, regulations and guidelines provide little direction to ethics review committees about how best to protect these people – and about who can make decisions on their behalf.
The new study, part of a larger Canadian research program called Substitute Consent for Research in Elderly Subjects (SCORES), involved telephone interviews with 46 research ethics board chairs in Canada, assessing their attitudes toward enrolling in clinical trials older adults without decision-making capacity and asking what safeguards they would require. Twenty respondents said they had reviewed research protocols involving such persons during the past year and all allowed them to participate in research under certain conditions, such as minimal risks or consent from a substitute decision-maker.
More than half of the ethics board chairs said that they required additional protections for this population, such as assessing decisional capacity. "Yet the fact that some REBs [research ethics boards] did not require these additional safeguards is cause for concern," wrote the researchers. Four allowed older adults without decision-making capacity to participate in minimal risk studies that could benefit them personally, even when there was no one legally authorized to provide substitute consent. The authors raised concerns about this practice, though they acknowledged that the legal requirement regarding substitute consent for research is unclear in the provinces where those REBs are located.
Given the variability in research protections for older adults with cognitive impairment, the researchers "recommend that policy-makers and stakeholders consider developing appropriate protective measures for this population."
The lead author is Gina Bravo, professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, at the University of Sherbrook, and Research Centre on Aging, University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke in Quebec. Coauthors are from University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke, Dalhousie Law School in Halifax, and University of Toronto.
Michael Turton | EurekAlert!
Physics of bubbles could explain language patterns
25.07.2017 | University of Portsmouth
Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine