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Consent in Bipolar Studies

Posted on July 22, 2009

Aude Henin (bio) discusses obtaining consent with adolescent and teen bipolar patients.


The issue of consenting is an interesting one. Now, all of our studies tend to look at individuals when they're not acutely manic or psychotic, so I think that simplifies it a little bit because I think there are real issues about consenting people who perhaps are in a mood state where it's hard for them to consent to anything.

So we try to have people come in a euthymic mood state, and if they're not, we really would not consent them. If somebody is clearly acutely ill, we would wait and try to get them to services first and then reconsent them or have them come back to the study when they're a little bit more stable.

Again, part of the consent process is that they have the right to consent or not consent to anything at that time in the study and at any time in the future. So we make it very clear that they can say yes or no to any part of the study without having that affect their participation in the study as a whole or affect their relationship with us.

And that they can change their mind at any point, and people certainly do. And that can be true for things such as speaking with parents, which is a real issue for this age group. So we ask for consent to speak to parents, but some 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds may not want us to do that and that's okay. Or if they do give us consent, they can revoke that consent at any point, and we'll of course respect that.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2009 Career Development Institute for Bipolar Disorder in Pittsburgh, PA.


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