Consent form gobbledygook: Are medical research subjects adequately informed?

Sunday, June 20, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: medical research, consent forms, health news

eTrust Pro Certified

Most Viewed Articles
Popular on Facebook
BACK INTO THE CLOSET: Why U.S. reporters are not allowed to write about rainbow events in nations where being gay is still condemned
Depopulation test run? 75% of children who received vaccines in Mexican town now dead or hospitalized
A family destroyed: Six-month-old dies after clinic injects baby with 13 vaccines at once without mother's informed consent
INVESTIGATION: Three days before Dr. Bradstreet was found dead in a river, U.S. govt. agents raided his research facility to seize a breakthrough cancer treatment called GcMAF
BAM! Chipotle goes 100% non-GMO; flatly rejecting the biotech industry and its toxic food ingredients
BOMBSHELL: China and America already at war: Tianjin explosion carried out by Pentagon space weapon in retaliation for Yuan currency devaluation... Military helicopters now patrolling Beijing
ECONOMIC SLAVERY FOR ALL: While we were distracted with the Confederate flag flap, Congress quietly forfeited our entire economic future via fast-track trade authority
March Against Monsanto explodes globally... World citizens stage massive protests across 38 countries, 428 cities... mainstream media pretends it never happened
GMO crops totally banned in Russia... powerful nation blocks Monsanto's agricultural imperialism and mass poisoning of the population
SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision may have just legalized the concealed carry of loaded firearms across all 50 states, nullifying gun laws everywhere
Nearly every mass shooting in the last 20 years shares one surprising thing? and it's not guns
Vicious attack on Dr. Oz actually waged by biotech mafia; plot to destroy Oz launched after episode on glyphosate toxicity went viral
Holistic cancer treatment pioneer Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez dies suddenly; patients mourn the loss of a compassionate, innovative doctor who helped thousands heal from cancer
Pepsi drops aspartame from diet soda as consumers reject toxic sweetener
Bride of Frankenfood: Hillary Clinton pushes GMO agenda... hires Monsanto lobbyist... takes huge dollars from Monsanto
STATINS RED ALERT: Widely prescribed drugs act as cellular poisons that accelerate aging... deactivate DNA repair... promote diabetes, muscle fatigue and memory loss
Wild eyes and bowl cuts: Why do mass shooters always share the same hair styles and crazed zombie stares?
Mind control through emotional domination: How we're all being manipulated by the "crisis of the NOW"
(NaturalNews) When a person signs up to participate in medical research, he or she is given a form to sign that is supposed to state the goal of the study as well as all the known possible risks of the drug or procedure being tested. But a new report by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Columbia University concludes informed consent forms are often too long and complicated -- full of legalese and technical gobbledygook -- for many people to understand.

For anyone who takes a look at the sometimes shameful history of human experimentation in this country, even the slightest concern research subjects are not fully informed is worrisome. One of the most heartbreaking cases of study participants denied informed consent involved the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted experiments on 399 poor African-American men suffering from syphilis. The men were never told what disease they had or its seriousness. Instead, they were told they were being treated for "bad blood" by doctors who had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all. In fact, the goal was to collect data from the men's bodies after they died from the excruciating effects of untreated syphilis.

In 1966, Henry K Beecher, M.D., published a scholarly article, "Ethics and Clinical Research," that documented 22 unethical research trials published in U.S. medical journals since World War II. The paper revealed horrendously dangerous experiments conducted on unsuspecting research subjects. For example, malignant cells from cancer patients were injected into elderly and debilitated inmates of the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital -- people who were incapable of giving informed consent.

No one is suggesting that the horrors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study or the unethical research described by Dr. Beecher are still taking place in the 21st century. However, there are reasons to be concerned that many people participating in medical studies as research subjects are not always given comprehensible or accurate information.

Experimenting on Native American Indians

A case in point: in a high-profile legal case last April, a Native American tribe won a substantial settlement from Arizona State University because blood samples provided by Havasupai tribe members were used for purposes never revealed in the consent forms they signed. A researcher told the Indians, who live in the Grand Canyon, their blood samples would be used to find out why the tribe had high rates of diabetes. The blood was actually used to study rates of schizophrenia and for racial migration research.

For the new review of informed consent forms, which was just published in the journal IRB: Ethics and Human Research Efforts, the authors examined the accuracy and length of research consent forms used for 215 studies by one department in a major academic center over the past 25 years. Their conclusion? There is both good news and bad news. The actual information in consent forms has become far more accurate over time. However, the consent forms have become increasingly lengthier and more complicated -- growing from an average of a paragraph or two to more than four and a half pages.

The study authors cited data showing that these longer, wordier consent forms "are unlikely to be read, perhaps in part because of the time involved." And that raises the obvious question: if informed consent forms are not being read and understood before they are signed, what is the true state of genuinely informed consent among today's medical research subjects?

For more information:

Follow real-time breaking news headlines on
Medical research at
Join over four million monthly readers. Your privacy is protected. Unsubscribe at any time.
comments powered by Disqus
Take Action: Support by linking back to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite with clickable link.

Follow Natural News on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest

Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...


Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source:

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.