Timing invitations to participate in clinical research: Preliminary versus informed consent

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (1):89 – 106 (2005)
Abstract
This article addresses the impact of the potential conflict between the roles of physicians who are both clinicians and researchers on the recruitment of persons into research trials. It has been proposedthat a physician breaches inter-role confidentiality when he or she uses information gathered in his or her clinical role to inform patients about trials for which they may be eligible and that clinician-researchers should adopt a model of preliminary consent to be approached about research prior to commencing a clinical relationship. This article argues that even if we grant the legitimacy of inter-role confidentiality (which is open to question), there are circumstances in which other obligations physicians bear override the obligation of inter-role confidentiality. Moreover, it is argued that the practice of preliminary consent is morally suspect and that such consent cannot be deemed valid. The article concludes with a series of recommendations of ways in which the legitimate concern regarding the conflicting roles of clinician-researchers can be addressed in the recruitment stage of research.
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