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!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences