Vol VIII, Issue 3 Date of Publication: July 02, 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.20529/IJME.2022.087

, PDF Downloads:

On conducting a study among institutionalised adolescents in Kerala, India: legal and ethical challenges

T S Sumitha
Ravi Prasad Varma
We report the dilemmas faced by the investigators while conducting a study on the social and environmental factors for protection of the mental health of adolescents placed under State protection in Kerala, India. The proposal received counsel and directives from the Integrated Child Protection Scheme authorities, under the Social Justice Department of Kerala state and the Institutional Ethics Committee of the host institution. The investigator faced and had to reconcile conflicting directives and antithetical field realities, with respect to seeking informed consent from the study participants. The physical act of adolescents signing the consent form, rather than the actual process of assent, received disproportionately more scrutiny. The authorities also questioned the privacy and confidentiality requirements raised by the researchers. Of the 248 eligible adolescents, 26 chose to dissent from participating in the study, demonstrating that choices would be made if they are offered. There is a need for more discourse on achieving steadfast adherence to the principles of informed consent, particularly in research on vulnerable groups such as institutionalised children.

Copyright and license
©Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 2022: 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.

Full Text


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Please restrict your comment preferably to 800 words
Comments are moderated. Approval can take up to 48 hours.

Help IJME keep its content free. You can support us from as little as Rs. 500 Make a Donation