Informed Consent Essay: Ethical Principles of Gaining Informed Consent

Topics: Ethics, Autonomy, Informed consent Pages: 7 (1812 words) Published: August 23, 2013
Informed Consent Essay: Ethical principles of gaining informed consent

“Respect for human beings involves giving due scope to peoples capacity to make their own decisions. In the research context, this normally requires that participation be the result of a choice made by the participants” (NHMR, 2007, p.3).  Freegard 2012 (p.60), states that “respecting the rights of others,” includes a responsibility for Health professionals “to let others know about their rights” and that this forms the basis of an informed consent.

Discuss the values and principles of ethical conduct in relation to gaining an informed consent from potential research participants in relation to your project.

In your discussion

• Briefly highlight the features of an informed consent

• Discuss why gaining informed consent from participants is important in research and how this contributes to the four principles of ethical conduct in research

1. respect for human beings,

2. research merit and integrity,

3. justice, and

4. beneficence

• Draw on other ethical theories to support your discussion (at least one)

• For your essay you should refer to the NHMRC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research: (

Study Abstract

Coronary artery bypass grafting may leave one-third patients with persistent pain, as well as hypersensory symptoms at and away from the primary site of pathology (central sensitisation). Subjects who have undergone this surgery, are under 81 years of age and have no co-morbidities will be recruited. Through the use of quantitative sensory testing (such as heat pain threshold and pressure pain threshold), participants will be assessed for the prevalence of central sensitisation. Positive findings may lead to the re-assessment of patient analgesic management for better outcomes.

This essay will define the features involved in gaining ‘informed consent’ from research participants for the proposed physiotherapy research study. It will discuss ethical principles that are embedded in the National Statement; a document released to “promote ethically good human research” (National Healthy and Medical Research Council [NHMRC], 2007, p. 7). It will also discuss the principles and values within principle-based ethics (bioethics), deontology, and utilitarianism as they apply to gaining this consent. Finally, it will highlight utilitarianism and its’ contribution to the safeguarding of research participants.

To achieve consent classified as ‘informed’ the therapist must disclose all information relevant to a forthcoming intervention, in a time of decision-making. Beauchamp and Faden (2004) define informed consent as “autonomous authorisation of a medical intervention…by individual patients”, whilst Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee explain that “informed consent allows mentally competent patients to make autonomous choices, and protects [the] mentally incompetent patients from harm” (2005. p215-216). Ethically sound informed consent includes four elements: competence, voluntariness, disclosure of information, and understanding and acceptance of information (Kerridge, et al., 2005). Briefly summarised this means that the patient (or in this case, the participant) is able to express free choice (autonomy) through a cognitive reasoning process, from adequately disclosed information. Furthermore it means the documentation and terminology is suitably matched to the participant’s level of understanding (e.g. lay terms) and that adequate time is given for decision-making (Brody & Engelhardt 1987; Oliver, 2010). Finally, harm must be minimized to any participant (non-maleficence), the research should be scientifically valid (research merit and integrity), and any cognitively impaired or incapable participant should have a suitable third party to give consent (Kerridge, et al., 2005). Although it may appear this process is...

References: Australian Physiotherapy Association. (2008). APA code of conduct. Retrieved from
Beauchamp, T, L., & Faden, R, R
British Medical Association, (2004). Medical Ethics Today (2nd ed). London, England: BMJ Books.
Brody, B, A., & Engelhardt, Jr., H, T. (1987). Bioethics: Readings & cases. New Jersey, USA: Prentice-Hall.
Kerridge, I., Lowe, M., & McPhee, J. (2005). Ethics and law for the health professions. (2nd ed.) Sydney, Australia: Federation Press.
Kerridge, I., Lowe, M., & Stewart, C. (2009). Ethics and law for health professions. (3rd ed.) Sydney, Australia: Federation Press.
McCabe, H. (2012). Lecture 1: Human rights, the health professions, and health care [PDF Document]. Retrieved from
National Health and Medical Research Council
Oliver, P. (2010). The student’s guide to research ethics (2nd ed.). United Kingdom: Open University Press.
Rigg, E. (2012a). Lecture 2: Beneficence and non-maleficence, duty of care and negligence [PDF Document]. Retrieved from
Rigg, E
Rigg, E. (2012c). Lecture 4: Justice & the distribution of health care resources [PDF Document]. Retrieved from
Shannon, T, A
United Nations. (2012). The universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved from
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