Disability, Vulnerability, and the Capacity to Consent

Stephanie Patterson and Pamela Block

in Research Involving Participants with Cognitive Disability and Difference

Published in print September 2019 | ISBN: 9780198824343
Published online October 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780191863165 | DOI:
Disability, Vulnerability, and the Capacity to Consent

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Cognition and Behavioural Neuroscience
  • Neuroscientific Techniques


Show Summary Details


Does having a diagnosis of intellectual or cognitive disability automatically render a person vulnerable and unable to give informed consent to participate in research? Discussions over a proposed change in United States Federal Human Subjects language brought these issues into keen focus. People who are identified as having a cognitive or mental disability may be no more at risk for abuse in participating in research than non-disabled people and may have equal ability to provide informed consent. We assert that a focus on the ability to consent and power to resist manipulation is a more helpful dividing line than a disability or impairment category. We ask the question: How do we assure personal autonomy when the mechanisms to establish capacity are discriminatory and in violation of a person’s civil rights.

Keywords: capacity to consent; human subjects research; research ethics; vulnerability; cognitive disability; intellectual disability; disability rights; disability justice; independence; impaired decision-making

Chapter.  3863 words. 

Subjects: Cognition and Behavioural Neuroscience ; Neuroscientific Techniques

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or purchase to access all content.