Informed consent and standard of care: what must be disclosed

Am J Bioeth. 2013;13(12):9-13. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2013.849303.


The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) was correct in determining that the consent forms for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored SUPPORT study were seriously flawed. Several articles defended the consent forms and criticized the OHRP's actions. Disagreement focuses on three central issues: (1) how risks and benefits should be described in informed consent documents; (2) the meaning and application of the concept of "standard of care" in the context of research; and (3) the proper role of OHRP. Examination of the consent forms reveals that they failed to disclose the reasonably foreseeable risks of the experimental interventions in the study, as well as the potential for differences in the degree of risk between these interventions. Although the concept of "standard of care" may be helpful in determining the ethical acceptability of other aspects of research, such as clinical equipoise, it is not helpful in discussing consent requirements.

MeSH terms

  • Consent Forms / standards*
  • Disclosure / ethics*
  • Dissent and Disputes
  • Ethics Committees, Research / standards
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics*
  • Negotiating
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / ethics*
  • Research Subjects*
  • Standard of Care* / ethics
  • Uncertainty
  • United States