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Authority and the Future of Consent in Population-Level Biomedical Research / Mark Sheehan; Rachel Thompson; Jon Fistein; Jim Davies; Michael Dunn; Michael Parker; Julian Savulescu; Kerrie Woods
Public Health Ethics, Volume: 12, Issue: 3, Pages: 225 - 236
Swansea University Author: Rachel, Thompson
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Population-level biomedical research has become crucial to the health system’s ability to improve the health ofthe population. This form of research raises a number of well-documented ethical concerns, perhaps the mostsignificant of which is the inability of the researcher to obtain fully informed s...
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Oxford University Press (OUP)
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Population-level biomedical research has become crucial to the health system’s ability to improve the health ofthe population. This form of research raises a number of well-documented ethical concerns, perhaps the mostsignificant of which is the inability of the researcher to obtain fully informed specific consent from participants.Two proposed technical solutions to this problem of consent in large-scale biomedical research that havebecome increasingly popular are meta-consent and dynamic consent. We critically examine the ethical andpractical credentials of these proposals and find them lacking. We suggest that the consent problem is notsolved by adopting a technology driven approach grounded in a notion of ‘specific’ consent but by takingseriously the role of research governance in combination with broader conceptions of consent. In our view, theseapproaches misconstrue the rightful location of authority in the way in which population-level biomedicalresearch activities are structured and organized. We conclude by showing how and why the authority fordetermining the nature and shape of choice making about participation ought not to lie with individual participants, but rather with the researchers and the research governance process, and that this necessarily leads tothe endorsement of a fully articulated broad consent approach.
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