Modified informed consent in a viral seroprevalence study in the Caribbean

Bioethics. 1996 Jul;10(3):222-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.1996.tb00121.x.


An unlinked seroprevalence study of HIV and other viruses was conducted on pregnant women on the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1994. Investigators were from both the developed world and the Grenadian Ministry of Health (MOH). There was then no board on Grenada to protect research subjects or review ethical aspects of studies. Nurses from the MOH were asked to verbally inform their patients about the study, and request that patients become subjects of the study and give blood for screening. If consent was given nurses took blood and administered a survey about each subjects' knowledge of HIV transmission routes. Nurses shared a spoken dialect and cultural heritage with prospective subjects and were probably more effective than foreign researchers at informing subjects. Informed consent was obtained with a simplified consent form supplemented with conversation with each prospective research subject. Facilitating discussion between people with common cultural backgrounds helps apply the Western approach to informed consent to communites in the developing world. Researchers must disclose all information to nurses or other mediators, and ensure that nurses disclose as much information as possible to prospective subjects. So modified, informed consent maintains respect for persons and becomes applicable and relevant to various cultures.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis*
  • Attitude
  • Confidentiality
  • Consent Forms
  • Data Collection
  • Deception
  • Developing Countries
  • Disclosure
  • Ethical Relativism
  • Ethics
  • Ethics Committees
  • Ethics Committees, Research
  • HIV Seropositivity*
  • Hepatitis*
  • Human Experimentation*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Nurses
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stereotyping
  • West Indies