Developing World Bioethics 15 (3):191-198 (2015)

There is increasing interest in the need to address the ethical dilemmas related to the engagement of adolescents in sexual and reproductive health research. Research projects, including those that address issues related to STIs and HIV, adverse pregnancy outcomes, violence, and mental health, must be designed and implemented to address the needs of adolescents. Decisions on when an individual has adequate capacity to give consent for research most commonly use age as a surrogate rather than directly assessing capacity to understand the issues and make an informed decision on whether to participate in research or not. There is a perception that adolescents participating in research are more likely to be coerced and may therefore not fully comprehend the risk they may be taking when engaging in research. This paper examines the various ethical issues that may impact stakeholders' decision making when considering engaging adolescents in SRH research in Nigeria. It makes a case for lowering the age of consent for adolescents. While some experts believe it is possible to extrapolate relevant information from adult research, studies on ethical aspects of adolescents' participation in research are still needed, especially in the field of sexual and reproductive health where there are often differences in knowledge, attitudes and practices compared to adults. The particular challenges of applying the fundamental principles of research ethics to adolescent research, especially research about sex and sexuality, will only become clear if more studies are conducted
Keywords research ethics  informed consent  Africa  adolescent  Nigeria  Sexual and Reproductive Health
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DOI 10.1111/dewb.12061
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