Although informed consent is important in clinical research, questions persist regarding when it is necessary, what it requires, and how it should be obtained. The standard view in research ethics is that the function of informed consent is to respect individual autonomy. However, consent processes are multidimensional and serve other ethical functions as well. These functions deserve particular attention when barriers to consent exist. We argue that consent serves seven ethically important and conceptually distinct functions. The first four functions pertain (...) principally to individual participants: providing transparency; allowing control and authorization; promoting concordance with participants' values; and protecting and promoting welfare interests. Three other functions are systemic or policy focused: promoting trust; satisfying regulatory requirements; and promoting integrity in research. Reframing consent around these functions can guide approaches to consent that are context sensitive and that maximize achievable goals. (shrink)
Different types of consent are used to obtain human biospecimens for future research. This variation has resulted in confusion regarding what research is permitted, inadvertent constraints on future research, and research proceeding without consent. The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center's Department of Bioethics held a workshop to consider the ethical acceptability of addressing these concerns by using broad consent for future research on stored biospecimens. Multiple bioethics scholars, who have written on these issues, discussed the reasons for consent, the (...) range of consent strategies, and gaps in our understanding, and concluded with a proposal for broad initial consent coupled with oversight and, when feasible, ongoing provision of information to donors. This article describes areas of agreement and areas that need more research and dialogue. Given recent proposed changes to the Common Rule, and new guidance regarding storing and sharing data and samples, this is an important and tim.. (shrink)
PURPOSE: There is an increasing demand for researchers to provide research results to participants. Our aim was to define an appropriate process for this, based on needs and attitudes of participants. METHODS: A multicenter survey in five sites in the United States and Canada was offered to parents of children with cancer and adolescents with cancer. Respondents indicated their preferred mode of communication of research results with respect to implications; timing, provider, and content of the results; reasons for and against (...) providing results; and barriers to providing results. RESULTS: Four hundred nine parents (including 19 of deceased children) and 86 adolescents responded. Most parents (n = 385; 94.2%) felt that they had a strong right to research results. For positive results, most wanted a letter or e-mail summary (n = 238; 58.2%) or a phone call followed by a letter (n = 100; 24.4%). If the results were negative, phone call (n = 136; 33.3%) or personal visits (n = 150; 36.7%) were preferred. Parents wanted the summary to include long-term sequelae and suggestions for participants (n = 341; 83.4%), effect on future treatments (n = 341; 83.4%), and subsequent research steps (n = 284; 69.5%). Understanding the researcher was a main concern about receiving results (n = 145; 35.5%). Parents felt that results provide information to support quality of life (n = 315; 77%) and raise public awareness of research (n = 282; 68.9%). Adolescents identified similar preferences. CONCLUSION: Parents of children with cancer and adolescents with cancer feel strongly that they have a right to be offered research results and have specific preferences of how and what information should be communicated. (shrink)
PURPOSE: The offer to return research results to participants is increasingly recognized as an ethical obligation, although few researchers routinely return results. We examined the needs and attitudes of parents of children with cancer and of adolescents with cancer to the return of research results. METHODS: Seven experts in research ethics scored content validity on parent and adolescent questionnaires previously developed through focus group and phone interviews. The questionnaires were revised and provided to 30 parents and 10 adolescents in a (...) tertiary care oncology setting. RESULTS: The content validity index for individual questions and the overall questionnaires scored as 0.86 for both questionnaires. All 30 parents and 10 adolescents who agreed to participate returned questionnaires. The majority (>95%) indicated that they had a strong or very strong right to receive results. Letter or e-mail was a satisfactory means to return results described as good or neutral (66% parents, 100% adolescents) but more participants wished face-to-face disclosure of results with negative implications (50% parents, 60% adolescents). Very few wanted results disseminated through a Web site. The majority acknowledged the need for peer-review before disclosure (60% of adolescents and parents) but did not want "to be the last to know." CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that pediatric oncology patients and parents of children with cancer strongly feel that they have a right to research results, and that they wish to receive these in a timely manner. (shrink)
Background: Low rates of participation of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) in clinical oncology trials may contribute to poorer outcomes. Factors that influence the decision of AYAs to participate in health research and whether these factors are different from those that affect the participation of parents of children with cancer. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of data from validated questionnaires provided to adolescents (>12 years old) diagnosed with cancer and parents of children with cancer at 3 sites in Canada (...) (Halifax, Vancouver, and Montreal) and 2 in the United States (Atlanta, GA, and Memphis, TN). Respondents reported their own research participation and cited factors that would influence their own decision to participate in, or to provide parental authorization for their child to participate in health research. Results: Completed questionnaire rates for AYAs and parents were 86 (46.5%) of 185 and 409 (65.2%) of 627, respectively. AYAs (n = 86 [67%]) and parents (n = 409 [85%]) cited that they would participate in research because it would help others. AYAs perceived pressure by their family and friends (16%) and their physician (19%). Having too much to think about at the time of accrual was an impediment to both groups (36% AYAs and 47% parents). The main deterrent for AYAs was that research would take up too much time (45%). Nonwhite parents (7 of 56 [12.5%]) were more apt to decline than white parents (12 of 32 [3.7%]; P < .01). Conclusions: AYAs identified time commitment and having too much to think about as significant impediments to research participation. Addressing these barriers by minimizing time requirements and further supporting decision-making may improve informed consent and impact on enrollment in trials. (shrink)
The child was 2 years, 8 months old and weighed 25 pounds, one-fifth the weight of her mother, for whom she was to be the bone marrow donor. The mother had suffered a relapse of acute myelogenous leukemia; her physicians recommended a bone marrow transplant. The child was the closest human leukocyte antigen match and thus the best donor candidate for her mother's transplant.
This essay describes and critically evaluates a co-operative educational program to train Ugandan health care workers in bioethics. It describes one bottom-up effort, a week-long intensive workshop in bioethics provided by the authors to health care professionals in a developing country—Uganda. We will describe the background and circumstances that led to the organization of the workshop, and review its planning, design, curriculum, and outcome. We will focus especially on measures taken to make the workshop relevant for the audience of Ugandan (...) professionals, and describe lessons learned after two presentations of the workshop. Finally, we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of such a format, and its potential value in raising bioethical expertise in developing countries. (shrink)
Access to investigational drugs is a concern to patients and regulatory agencies. In order to determine potential trial participants’ views on access to investigational drugs, we surveyed one hundred people who had been referred to a phase I clinical trial. Most respondents indicated that patients had a right to investigational drugs, that the drugs should be offered only in the context of research, that getting access to these drugs is too hard, and that knowing the right people and being persistent (...) increased the likelihood of gaining access. Respondents did not think that investigational drugs should be given to anyone who wanted them, or that physicians were aware of the latest investigational agents. They most frequently recommended two allocation criteria: offering investigational drugs to those who would benefit most or were most needy; and allocating them to maximize scientific advancement. Respondents who understood the purpose of the trial were more likely to choose the second criterion. (shrink)
Multiple groups, including the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the National Coalition of Comprehensive Cancer Centers, Workgroup 6 of the Summit Series on Cancer, PRIM&R, the Bell Report, and prominent ethicists have called for replacing the current system of local institutional review with central review for multisite national trials. We argue that this need is particularly acute in pediatric oncology, as shown by the experience of the Children's Oncology Group.