Nursing Ethics : Health Care Research

Nursing Ethics : Health Care Research


Discuss about the Nursing Ethics for Health Care Research.


I disagree with the statement that states that children under twelve years of age should be excluded from all health care research due to their lack of capacity to consent. Adolescents who have decision-making capacity do not always require the consent of the parent or guardian in law or ethics. Usually in some situations, asking a parent for consent is risky rather than protective. For instance if a child is undertaking some internet-based study that does not include collecting some identifiable information, the mere act of obtaining permission from the parent may end up exposing the researcher to more crucial information, for example, the name and address of the house and collection of these indefinable information maximizes the dangers of breach of privacy to individuals (Balen, Blyth, Calabretto, Fraser, Horrocks & Manby, 2006).
Respecting children’s various capacities as well as affording them the care and involvement that they deserve contributes immensely to the improvement of their status. By appropriately informing children, and actively involving them in decision-making contributes a lot to their development. Children should be allowed to make decisions and the parent or guardian should only come in to offer advice or a different point of view but the big decision to participate in research or not to should be left to the child to choose (Fleming & Boeck, 2012).
According to the United Nations convention on the rights of children, each and every child has a right to articulate their views especially on issues that are directly linked to them. The level of seriousness of the views given by the child should depend on their age and maturity although the fundamental issue is that their views should be listened to (Williams, 2013).

The most recent legislation that impacts right to consent in health issues, the code of health and disability services consumers’ rights, does not point out any specific age group of the children as having different rights from any other consumer and presumes that any  consumer is competent unless there are credible grounds to believe otherwise. In case a decision has to be made on behalf of the child, then it should serve the interest of the child. That being said, health research is aimed at benefiting patients. Health Research may offer patients additional treatment options hence improving the standards of care. This shows that supporting research by means of allowing children to participate in health research will be beneficial to them. According to research, patients who receive care in institutions that are research active have better health outcomes when compared to those patients who receive care in non-research institutions (Fleming & Boeck, 2012).
A young person under the age of sixteen years of age may have the capacity to consent depending on his or her ability to fathom what is involved as well as their maturity. It is a well-known fact that different people mature differently since not two people are the same so their age should not be a factor, only their ability to understand what they are getting involved in. 
It is morally wrong to deny any human being the right to participate in anything that is potentially beneficial. By denying the child a chance to engage in medical research you deprive him or her chance to help others since the medical research is aimed at discovering or improving current health standards meaning that somebody somewhere will benefit from this research (Hunter Institute of Mental Health, 2014).
Diseases that affect children are usually many since they are more vulnerable compared to adults and by denying children a chance to participate in research will hinder any innovations that may potentially reduce some of these diseases (Smith, 2015).
The medical research council agrees with the idea that health research involving children below twelve years of age should be encouraged and supported primarily because the physiology of children is relatively different from that of adults so it is not possible to use the data collected from adults since pharmacokinetics of many drugs differ with the age of the child.
Furthermore, many disorders can only be fathomed in the context of a child’s development and growth. A good example is the way a developing brain adapts to damage in babies. This clearly indicates that for this kind of health research to be carried out then a baby must be involved otherwise knowledge on such matters will never be achieved (Hunter Institute of Mental Health, 2014).
Of all the valid reasons as to why children under the age of twelve years should not be allowed to participate in health research, lack of capacity should be a very insignificant reason. Children should be allowed to participate in health research depending on the level of risk and potential benefits to the child involved in the study. As long as the research does not pose a danger to the child, then by far the benefits outweigh the risks (Buchner-Eveleigh & Vogel, 2015).


Balen, R., Blyth, E., Calabretto, H., Fraser, C., Horrocks, C., & Manby, M. (January 01, 2006). Involving Children in Health and Social Research. Childhood, 13, 1, 29-48.
Buchner-Eveleigh, M., & Vogel, F. (January 01, 2015). Section 71 of the National Health Act : a call for a review of the consent requirement for child participation in health research. De Jure, 48, 2, 280-292.
Fleming, J., & Boeck, T. (2012). Involving children and young people in health and social care research. London: Routledge.
Hunter Institute of Mental Health. (2014). Connections: A resource for early childhood educators about children's wellbeing.
In Smith, A. B. (2015). Enhancing children's rights: Connecting research, policy and practice.
Williams, J. (2013). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.