Children's Consent and ‘Assent’ to Healthcare Research

Priscilla Alderson

in Law and Childhood Studies

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652501
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739217 | DOI:

Series: Current Legal Issues

Children's Consent and ‘Assent’ to Healthcare Research

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The idea of children's ‘assent’ to medical research became part of English law in 2004. However, this overrides English legal traditions of children's consent. Although this chapter concentrates on English law and guidance, it has international relevance. English law integrates with European law and also has influence over more than a billion people in the fifty-four British Commonwealth countries. Ethics guidance in England on consent to research influences international projects, based in Britain and conducted in Europe and in every other continent. Discussions about children's consent and assent illuminate meeting points between law and childhood studies across the world. This chapter examines contrasting meanings of consent and ‘assent’, and reviews the related law and ethics. It discusses whether children's consent or their assent offers them best support and protection while they are considering whether to take part in research, and while they are research subjects. It gives examples of some present problems, which indicate the need for broader understanding of children's consent.

Keywords: children's consent; children's assent; medical research; English law; ethics

Chapter.  8682 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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