Vol , Issue Date of Publication: July 16, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.20529/IJME.2020.130

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Challenges of informed consent during a political crisis: A case study of research with a marginalised group

Sapna Mishra
Rakhal Gaitonde
Ethical guidelines mandate that the researcher must obtain written informed consent either from the participant or from an impartial witness before commencing data collection. This case study describes some issues faced in trying to put this into practice. The research project in which these issues arose aimed to study occupational health problems and healthcare-seeking practices among workers in the unorganised e-waste sector in a south Indian city. The process of collecting written informed consent proceeded smoothly until the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act. This made these workers extremely anxious. They were ready to participate but refused to sign any document. In these circumstances, identifying an “impartial witness” or a “study independent person”, the recommended alternative to written consent by the institutional ethics committee, was impossible, given the close-knit community that was being studied and the fact that everyone was involved in one way or the other with e-waste related work.

Copyright and license
©Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 2020: Open Access and Distributed under the Creative Commons license ( CC BY-NC-ND 4.0),
which permits only non-commercial and non-modified sharing in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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