The influence of age, health literacy, and affluence on adolescents' capacity to consent to research

Lance R. Nelson, Nathan Stupiansky, Mary Ott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While adults are assumed to have the capacity to consent to medical research, and young children to have no capacity, adolescents' capacity to consent is not well described. Adapting the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR), we describe adolescents' capacity to consent to medical research and factors influencing that capacity. Our pilot study included a community-based sample of 30 adolescents, 14 to 21 years of age, who completed the MacCAT-CR after undergoing a simulated informed consent process. We found that adolescents' capacity to consent to research was associated with age, health literacy, and family affluence. These findings suggest that investigators and institutional review boards should be aware that factors other than age may influence capacity to consent, and, for modifiable factors, such as health literacy, consent processes for medical research with adolescents can be modified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Fingerprint

Health Literacy
affluence
literacy
Health
adolescent
Biomedical Research
health
medical research
Research
competence assessment
Mental Competency
Research Ethics Committees
Age Factors
medical factors
Informed Consent
Research Personnel

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Bioethics
  • Capacity
  • Consent
  • Health literacy
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication
  • Social Psychology
  • Law

Cite this

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AB - While adults are assumed to have the capacity to consent to medical research, and young children to have no capacity, adolescents' capacity to consent is not well described. Adapting the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR), we describe adolescents' capacity to consent to medical research and factors influencing that capacity. Our pilot study included a community-based sample of 30 adolescents, 14 to 21 years of age, who completed the MacCAT-CR after undergoing a simulated informed consent process. We found that adolescents' capacity to consent to research was associated with age, health literacy, and family affluence. These findings suggest that investigators and institutional review boards should be aware that factors other than age may influence capacity to consent, and, for modifiable factors, such as health literacy, consent processes for medical research with adolescents can be modified.

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