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Consent in crisis: the need to reconceptualize consent to tissue banking research

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The issues surrounding consent to tissue banking research in Australia are complex and have created a forum of intense debate, thus providing a window of opportunity to critically appraise and challenge standard models of consent for research in general and for tissue banking research in particular. The usual practical difficulties associated with meeting the criteria for valid consent to research (including adequate information provision and voluntariness) are amplified in the case of tissue banking research. A number of models, based on widely accepted ethical principles, have been proposed to improve the process of obtaining consent to tissue banking research, all of which assume that the consent of individual tissue donors is needed to meet the criteria for valid consent. Feminist and communitarian theories use many of the same criteria for valid consent but interpret these criteria differently and de-emphasize the importance of individual autonomy as the central criterion for valid consent. An enriched model of consent incorporating feminist and communitarian ideas could satisfy the currently accepted criteria for valid consent while also furthering a broader range of community values.

Keywords: bioethics; consent; epidemiology; research; tissue bank

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1445-5994.2006.01020.x

Publication date: February 1, 2006

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