Cultural considerations for informed consent in paediatric research in low/middle-income countries: a scoping review

Cultural considerations for informed consent in paediatric research in low/middle-income countries: a scoping review
Original Article
Marcela Colom, Peter Rohloff
BMJ Paediatrics Open, 5 December 2018; 2
Open Access
Conducting research with children in low/middle-income countries (LMIC) requires consideration of socioeconomic inequalities and cultural and linguistic differences. Our objective was to survey the literature on informed consent in paediatric LMIC research, assessing for practical guidance for culturally and linguistically appropriate procedures.
We conducted a scoping review on informed consent in paediatric LMIC research searching the PubMed, Web of Science and PsycINFO databases. Eligible articles were published in English, from any date range, of any study design or format.
The search identified 2027 references, of which 50 were included in the analysis following full-text review. Reviewed guidelines emphasised individual, informed and voluntary consent from parents and caregivers. Reviewed articles provided detailed practical guidance on adapting these guiding principles to LMIC settings, including considerations for community engagement, verbal or other alternative consent procedures for low-literacy settings or less commonly spoken languages and guarding against therapeutic misconception by caregivers. There was uncertainty, however, on how to best protect individual autonomy, especially when influenced by gender dynamics, leadership hierarchies or the social status of researchers themselves. There was, furthermore, limited research discussing the special case of research involving adolescents or of procedures for documenting assent by participating children.
A scoping review of paediatric research in LMICs revealed substantial guidance on several features of culturally appropriate informed consent. However, additional research and guidance is needed, especially in the areas of gender imbalances, research with adolescents and children’s own assent to participate in research.

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