Journal Article

Biobanking and the Abandonment of Informed Consent: An Ethical Imperative

Stephanie Solomon Cargill

in Public Health Ethics

Volume 9, issue 3, pages 255-263
Published in print November 2016 | ISSN: 1754-9973
Published online February 2016 | e-ISSN: 1754-9981 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/phe/phw001
Biobanking and the Abandonment of Informed Consent: An Ethical Imperative

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  • Philosophy of Science
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There has been extensive discussion in research ethics literature surrounding the appropriate form of informed consent for biobanking, whether with adapted content, or adapted forms such as broad or tiered consent. These discussions presuppose that it is possible to disclose adequate information at the outset to facilitate an informed choice to donate to a biobank. I will argue that informed consent cannot be achieved because in the biobanking context, we are either consenting to an enterprise that is not research (so the information disclosed should be radically different) or to future research (so the information disclosed does not exist yet). Nor is the solution to abandon the idea that informed consent ethically requires the disclosure of a certain minimal amount of information to make an informed choice by misleadingly identifying broad, blanket or even tiered consent as forms of ‘informed’ consent. Rather, we should abandon the idea that informed consent for research can be adapted to the type of endeavor that biobanking is, and understand the goal as to develop alternatives not as alternative forms of informed consent, but rather alternatives to informed consent.

Journal Article.  6071 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Philosophy of Biology ; Bioethics and Medical Ethics ; Medical Ethics ; Public Health

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