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Use of blanket consent for retrospective research in academic institutions: need for scrutiny and integrating safeguards

Anant Bhan

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2010.020


Abstract

The quantum of research is increasing in most Indian institutions. Linked with academic activities such as postgraduate thesis studies, or with externally and internally funded research projects, this research is often useful in devising better treatment modalities as well as in making policy suggestions. As knowledge about ethical requirements in research becomes commonplace, the need for informed consent (IC) from patients and/or research participants has become the norm. Some institutions have started encouraging researchers to take consent from patients for the use of their samples or case reports for unspecified future research purposes; such consent is often referred to as “blanket consent”. Ethicists and researchers in a previous issue have debated whether the use of blanket consent can be justified. This commentary looks at the concept of blanket consent in the context of research in India. It highlights issues from the perspectives of the researcher and the patient and provides examples of ways to address these concerns.

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