Bulger defines informed consent as the process by which “a fully informed patient or participant can participate in a research project after being informed of its procedures, risks, and benefits” (Bulger, 2002). Informed consent is a part of ethical and legal rights that research participants or patients have.
It remains a critical procedure for any research project. Research subjects or patients must understand all issues about the research or procedure before giving their full and conscious consent to the researcher or physician to proceed with the procedure. It is necessary to understand the history of informed consent in research in order to appreciate its importance.Importance of Consent in Research Essay
One significant case that influenced the issue of informed consent was “the aftermath of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study” (Deria, 2006). Between 1932 and 1972, the United States Public Health Service conducted a study in order to understand prolonged effects of syphilis among blacks (Deria, 2006).
The subjects had syphilis but were not aware of their conditions. Moreover, researchers withheld important information from them. In the 1950s, those physicians discovered that penicillin effectively treated syphilis. However, the researchers did not reveal the information to the patient about the penicillin cure.
Further, they also prevented research subjects from getting treatment. As a result, many participants “died from syphilis related complications” (Deria, 2006). However, one researcher who worked at the project revealed the procedure in a newspaper article, which shocked the public.
There were also other cases of unethical practices, which involved “the Nazi Germany doctors and their horror experiments on prisoners in concentration camps” (Deria, 2006). In addition, there were also cases of unethical studies in the US and the UK after the WW II. Since then, the issue of informed consent has become critical for researchers, legislators, institutions, and the research subjects.