Researching Scabies Outbreaks among People in Residential Care and Lacking Capacity to Consent: A Case Study

Public Health Ethics 10 (1):phv011 (2017)
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Infectious disease outbreaks in residential care are complex to manage and difficult to control. Research in this setting that includes individuals who lack capacity must conform to national legislation. We report here on our study that is investigating outbreaks of scabies, an itchy skin infection, in the residential care setting in the southeast of England. There appears to be a gap in legislative advice regarding the inclusion of people who lack capacity in research that takes place during time-limited acute scenarios such as outbreaks. We received inconsistent advice from experts regarding, in particular, the role of nominated consultees. There is a potential inequality for vulnerable populations who cannot themselves provide informed consent in terms of their access to participation in a range of health-related research.



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