Journal Article

Adolescent decision-making in Canadian medical contexts: Integrating neuroscience and consent frameworks

Yael Schwartz, Tricia S Williams, Samantha D Roberts, Jonathan Hellmann and Randi Zlotnik Shaul

in Paediatrics & Child Health

Published on behalf of Canadian Paediatric Society

Volume 23, issue 6 Published in print August 2018 | ISSN: 1205-7088
Published online April 2018 | e-ISSN: 1918-1485 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pch/pxy037
Adolescent decision-making in Canadian medical contexts: Integrating neuroscience and consent frameworks

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  • Neonatology
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  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology

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Abstract

The primary objective of this commentary is to integrate current neuroscientific research on brain development during adolescence, with existing consent frameworks that do not designate a minimum age for eligibility to consent to, or refuse medical treatment. To reach this objective, the three consent frameworks used in health care settings are outlined: age-based framework; mature minor framework and capacity-based framework. This commentary draws on the Canadian health care system specifically to consider consent frameworks that grant young people with decision-making capacity. Next, a brief review of adolescent brain development findings is presented, particularly pertaining to the decision-making capacity of young people within medical contexts. Ultimately, the question of whether the stage of a young person’s brain development impedes their capacity to consent to, or refuse medical treatment is addressed. This commentary provides reassurance as to the compatibility between capacity-based and mature minor frameworks to consent to treatment with current neuroscientific understanding of adolescent brain development.

Keywords: Adolescence; Brain development; Capacity; Consent; Decision-making; Health care; Neuroscientific

Journal Article.  1986 words. 

Subjects: Neonatology ; Primary Care ; Child and Adolescent Psychiatry ; Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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