Vulnerability is an important criterion to assess the ethical justification of the inclusion of participants in research trials. Currently, vulnerability is often understood as an attribute inherent to a participant by nature of a diagnosed condition. Accordingly, a common ethical concern relates to the participant’s decisionmaking capacity and ability to provide free and informed consent. We propose an expanded view of vulnerability that moves beyond a focus on consent and the intrinsic attributes of participants. We offer specific suggestions for how relational aspects and the dynamic features of vulnerability could be more fully captured in current discussions and research practices.
Bell E, Racine E, Chiasson P, Dufourcq-Brana M, Dunn L, Fins J, McAndrews M. (2014) Beyond consent in research. revisiting vulnerability in deep brain stimulation for psychiatric disorders. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics : Cq : The International Journal of Healthcare Ethics Committees, 23(3), 361-8. doi:10.1017/S0963180113000984