ObjectiveTo examine health and social care professionals’ understanding of the legislation governing research involving adults lacking mental capacity in England and Wales.MethodsA cross-sectional online survey was conducted using a series of vignettes. Participants were asked to select the legally authorised decision-maker in each scenario and provide supporting reasons. Responses were compared with existing legal frameworks and analysed according to their level of concordance.ResultsOne hundred and twenty-seven professionals participated. Levels of discordance between responses and the legal frameworks were high across all (...) five scenarios. Nearly half of the participants provided responses that were discordant in all scenarios. Only two participants provided concordant responses across all five scenarios.DiscussionParticipants demonstrated a lack of knowledge about the legal frameworks, the locus of authority and the legal basis for decision-making. The findings raise concern about the accessibility of research for those who lack capacity, the ability to conduct research involving such groups and the impact on the evidence base for their care.ConclusionThis is the first study to examine health and social care professionals’ knowledge and understanding of the dual legal frameworks in the UK. Health and social care professionals’ understanding and attitudes towards research involving adults with incapacity may warrant further in-depth exploration. The findings from this survey suggest that greater training and education is required. (shrink)
Research involving adults who lack capacity to consent relies on proxy decision making. Proxy decisions about participation are ethically complex, with a disparity between normative accounts and empirical evidence. Concerns about the accuracy of proxies’ decisions arise, in part, from the lack of an ethical framework which takes account of the complex and morally pluralistic world in which proxy decisions are situated. This qualitative study explored the experiences of family members who have acted as a research proxy in order to (...) develop an understanding of the ethical concepts involved, and the interactions between those concepts. Proxies described a complex process of respecting the wishes and preferences of the person they represented, whist integrating preferences with what they viewed as being in the interests of the person. They aimed to make a decision that was ‘best’ for the person and protected them from harm; they also aimed to make the ‘right’ decision, viewed as being authentic to the person’s values and life. Decisions were underpinned by the relationship between the person and their proxy, in which both trust and trustworthiness were key. Proxies’ decisions, based both on respect for the person and the need to protect their interests, arose out of their dual role as both proxy and carer. The findings raise questions about accounts which rely on existing normative assumptions with a focus on accuracy and discrepancy, and which fail to take account of the requirement for proxies to make authentic decisions that arise out of their caring obligations. (shrink)
Objective The UK Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine programme commenced in the autumn of 2008 for year 8 (age 12–13 years) schoolgirls. We examine whether the vaccine should be given when there is a difference of opinion between daughters and parents or guardians. Design Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants A sample of 25 stakeholders: 14 professionals involved in the development of the HPV vaccination programme and 11 professionals involved in its implementation. Results Overriding the parents' wishes was perceived as problematic (...) and could damage the relationship between school and parents. A number of practical problems were raised in relation to establishing whether parents were genuinely against their daughter receiving the vaccine. Although many respondents recognised that the Gillick guidelines were relevant in establishing whether a girl could provide consent herself, they still felt that there were significant problems in establishing whether girls could be assessed as Gillick competent. In some areas school nurses had been advised not to give the vaccine in the absence of parental consent. None of the respondents suggested that a girl should be vaccinated against her consent even if her parents wanted her to have the vaccine. Conclusions While the Gillick guidelines provide a legal framework to help professionals make judgements about adolescents consenting to medical treatment, in practice there appears to be variable and confused interpretation of this guidance. Improved legal structures, management procedures and professional advice are needed to support those who are assessing competence and establishing consent to vaccinate adolescents in a school setting. (shrink)
Three recent books offer alternative views of hunting: Matt Cartmill’s A View to A Death in the Morning, James Swan’s In Defense of Hunting. and Forrest Wood’s The Delights and Dilemmas of Hunting. First, I argue that Cartmill’s claim of continuity of kind between animals and persons is both overstated and logically disconnected from the hunting/anti-hunting debate. Second, I argue that Cartmill’s claim that the suffering of sentient animals is somehow intrinsically undesirable exhibits an unjustified prejudice toward middle-sized organisms.
Masters attacks the following theses: Science is ahistorical. Scientific knowledge is value-free. The proper model of science is linear regularities. Behavior should be explained on a nature versus nurture dichotomy. The proper goal of science is the conquest of nature.
Background Population based genetics studies are dependent on large numbers of individuals in the pursuit of small effect sizes. Recruiting and consenting a large number of participants is both costly and time consuming. We explored whether an online consent process for large-scale genetics studies is acceptable for prospective participants using an example online genetics study. Methods We conducted semi-structured interviews with 42 members of the public stratified by age group, gender and newspaper readership (a measure of social status). Respondents were (...) asked to use a website designed to recruit for a large-scale genetic study. After using the website a semi-structured interview was conducted to explore opinions and any issues they would have. Responses were analysed using thematic content analysis. Results The majority of respondents said they would take part in the research (32/42). Those who said they would decline to participate saw fewer benefits from the research, wanted more information and expressed a greater number of concerns about the study. Younger respondents had concerns over time commitment. Middle aged respondents were concerned about privacy and security. Older respondents were more altruistic in their motivation to participate. Common themes included trust in the authenticity of the website, security of personal data, curiosity about their own genetic profile, operational concerns and a desire for more information about the research. Conclusions Online consent to large-scale genetic studies is likely to be acceptable to the public. The online consent process must establish trust quickly and effectively by asserting authenticity and credentials, and provide access to a range of information to suit different information preferences. (shrink)