J Prev Med Public Health.  2008 Sep;41(5):339-344. 10.3961/jpmph.2008.41.5.339.

'Informed Consent' in Public Health Activities: Based on the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, UNESCO

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Korea.khmeng@catholic.ac.kr

Abstract


OBJECTIVES
The objective of this paper is to discuss the importance of obtaining informed consent for conducting epidemiological studies and public health activities, based on the Report of the UNESCO's Working Group on Informed Consent.
METHODS
The Report of the UNESCO's Working Group on Informed Consent was reviewed and discussed in connection with the ethical considerations of public health activities and epidemiological research.
RESULTS
It was at the Nuremberg Trial for the German war criminals of the Second World War that the principle of 'consent' was first stated as a consequence of the medical abuses carried out during the War. As a result of the Trial, the Nuremberg Code came out in 1947. Since then, various international declarations or ethical principles on 'informed consent' have been developed and published. These ethical principles on 'informed consent' have mostly to do with the clinical research that involves human subjects, and not with epidemiological studies and public health activities. However, UNESCO recently issued a comprehensive Report on Informed Consent based on the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights adopted in 2005, and this included detailed guidelines on informed consent in epidemiological studies and public health activities.
CONCLUSIONS
Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights emphasizes the principle of autonomy to protect the human rights of the human subjects involved in any public health activities and epidemiological research. As a practical guideline, obtaining informed consent is strongly recommended.

Keyword

Informed consent; Public health; Epidemiological studies; UNESCO; IBC report on Consent; Universal declaration on bioethics and human rights

MeSH Terms

*Bioethics
Consensus
Epidemiologic Studies
*Human Rights
Humans
Informed Consent/*ethics/legislation & jurisprudence
Public Health/*ethics/legislation & jurisprudence
*United Nations
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