Informed consent in children and adolescents: Age, maturation and psychological state

Lorah D. Dorn, Elizabeth J. Susman, John C. Fletcher

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66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to examine the relationship of understanding of research participation to anxiety, control, and stage of cognitive development. Methods: Participants included 44 boys and girls ages 7 to 20 years. All were inpatients for the first time in pediatric units of a research hospital. Twenty participants were admitted for experimental treatment of pediatric cancers and 24 were admitted for a 3-week treatment of extreme obesity. An interview was conducted to assess 12 elements of knowledge of research participation of a medical protocol. The interview was coded for: 1) knowledge of research participation score, 2) weighted knowledge of participation in research score (based on physician ratings of what was most-to-least important for children and adolescents to know), and 3) global control (perceived control over life, illness and treatment). A measure of anxiety and one Piagetian task to measure stage of cognitive development also were administered. Results: Pearson correlations, significant at p ≦ .05, were as follows: knowledge of participation in research and global control, (r = .40) and weighted knowledge of participation in research score and global control (r = .38). Hierarchical regression showed that the best predictors of knowledge of research participation or the weighted knowledge of research participation score was global control alone or an interaction of global control with anxiety. Conclusions: Emotional factors were more frequently related to understanding of research participation than age or cognitive development. Providing medical environments that decrease anxiety and increase control may enhance children's and adolescent's understanding of the research process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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