Can involuntarily admitted patients give informed consent to participation in research?

C W van Staden


The article argues that a functional approach is ethically better than a categorical approach in deciding whether involuntarily admitted patients have the capacity to give informed consent to participation in research. Congruent with current South African laws, a functional approach requires that a patient’s capacity to give informed consent to participation in research should be assessed clinically rather than assumed by virtue of his/her belonging to a category of legal admission status. Concerns about protection against exploitation may cause a categorical approach to appear attractive, but these concerns can be addressed deliberately through a functional approach without attracting the infringements of rights and entitlements of patients that are brought about by a categorical approach.

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Submitted: 02 October 2007
Published: 01 February 2007

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)