Informed consent in psychiatric research: Preliminary findings from an ongoing investigation

Paul R. Benson, Loren H. Roth, William J. Winslade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Preliminary findings from an investigation of informed consent processes in four psychiatric research projects (two being carried out at a university medical center and two at a public psychiatric hospital) are reported. Study methods include the systematic observation of investigator/subject information disclosure sessions using audio and videotape, as well as the use of standardized interaction rating forms and subject understanding interviews. In an attempt to determine if subjects' understanding of research can be improved through increased subject education, several modes of information disclosure are compared. Partial results from the public psychiatric hospital portion of the investigation suggest low subject understanding in many areas with subjects often demonstrating difficulty differentiating between treatment and biomedical research. Subjects' problematic understanding of research purposes and methodology was compounded by investigator disclosures which often emphasized the therapeutic, personalistic and nonresearch-oriented aspects of the project. Nevertheless, even when information disclosures were significantly improved, subject understanding in many cases continued to be low- suggesting that additional factors aside from the quality of investigator disclosure are involved in psychiatric subjects' comprehension and understanding of research. The implication of these findings for informed consent, regulation of biomedical research and the protection of human subjects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1341
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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