Article Abstract

Informed consent in online research: the need for new ways of addressing research subjects

Authors: Marc van Hoof, Guy Widdershoven


Informed consent is an ethical and legal requirement for research with human subjects. In principle, informed consent can render actions morally permissible that would otherwise be wrong (1). The information requirement should ensure an understanding of what such an action entails in absence of control by others (2), respecting persons and their autonomy. However, a gap between theory and practice is evident. While investigators are responsible for facilitating forming an informed and independent decision by the subject, research shows that this is often not achieved in practice (3). Signed informed consent also is misused to serve the interests from sponsors and institutions in matters of liability (1).