Informed consent can be defined as an individual understanding the full implications and possible future consequences of an event, activity or trial that they are about to enter into (Mostert & Gilbert, 2013). It is usually the case that informed consent is applied as an inherent right for participants when it comes to activities or actions that may have extenuating implications after an act has been performed. This applies to situations wherein an individual’s opinions, thoughts or arguments could possibly be used against them in the future or even extends to activities wherein their physical or mental state may experience a certain degree of aversion to the acts that are performed on them (Mostert & Gilbert, 2013). For example, informed consent is normally required by hospitals prior to surgery or administering certain types of medication due to the possible complications that may arise.
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Informed consent is also utilized in cases involving psychological treatment or experimentation wherein patients are informed of the possible implications/ramifications of the procedures that they will undergo. Through informed consent, individuals, institutions and organization in effect absolve themselves of any potential legal problems by showing that the patient/volunteer in question was fully informed of what would happen to them, the apparent risks and yet consented for the acts to be performed nonetheless (Mostert & Gilbert, 2013). In the case of participants in particular medical or psychological procedures, informed consent acts as a means by which they understand what might happen to them, the potential adverse consequences and, as a result, are given a choice as to whether or not they would be part of that procedure. Through informed consent, participants are better able to protect themselves from participating in actions that they believe would not be in their best interests.
Informed consent and deception cannot be utilized legally at the same time since the very purpose of informed consent is ensure that patients are not deceived into participating in events/actions that they normally would not participate in due to potential problems that may arise (Giraudeau et al., 2012). In cases where deception does occur or where an individual, institution, or organization does not reveal all the possible problems/complications that may arise from a procedure, they can no longer absolve themselves from legal retribution since they in effect deceived a patient/participant. It is due to this that in instances where informed consent is needed, it can be seen that the explanation given is as detailed as possible in order to let the patient/participant understand the ramifications of participation in a procedure or experiment (Giraudeau et al., 2012).
In this scenario the most ethical action for the psychologist to take is to stick with the scientific method when it comes to examining the data and presenting the results. Religious orientations have nothing to do with the presentation of scientific facts and, as such, the most ethical action to take is to present the data as is without changing it in order to match his/her beliefs (Wilson & Hunter, 2010). It should be noted though that sticking purely to the scientific method is a process that is often times muddled by personal belief and the necessity of presenting positive results. It is due to this that peer review of the processes utilized during the experimentation procedure and the end results must be accomplished in order to ensure the veracity and accuracy of the data presented. It is only once such a process has been accomplished that the data presented can be considered as being in line with the ethical practices as outline by the APA (Wilson & Hunter, 2010).
Giraudeau, B., Caille, A., Gouge, A., & Ravaud, P. (2012). Participant Informed Consent in Cluster Randomized Trials: Review. Plos ONE, 7(7), 1-11.
Mostert, J., & Gilbert, M. (2013). Obtaining Informed Consent in Missiologically Sensitive Contexts. International Bulletin Of Missionary Research, 37(1), 3-8.
Wilson, J., & Hunter, D. (2010). Research Exceptionalism. American Journal Of Bioethics, 10(8), 45-54.
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