Parents’ Perspectives on Research Involving Children
Children's participation in research is essential for the development of safe and ageappropriate treatments. However, children's participation is limited. The aim of this study was to determine (1) mothers' and fathers' views on which agencies/persons should evaluate the level of acceptable risk for children and (2) parents' willingness to allow children to participate in research. Medical factors, sociodemographics, and research attitudes were related to willingness. The study used a cross-sectional and longitudinal design with 863 expectant parents (435 women; 428 men) consecutively recruited at gestational week 19 during routine ultrasound examination at 2 hospitals in Uppsala County, Sweden. 123 women at gestational week 34 were followed-up.
Parental ratings of agencies/persons' degree of involvement in risk-evaluation for child research participants and parents' willingness to allow children to participate in research were the main outcome measures. Most parents believed that more pediatric research was needed. Attitudes played a major role in willingness, indicating a potential for information that could modify willingness. Over 80% of mothers and fathers rated the attending physician as needing to be "fully involved" in risk evaluation for research participants. Parents’ views contradict current trends in research ethics which place evaluation of risk in the hands of regional agencies. Instead, the majority of parents would like the decision to be individually based on the attending physicians advise. We conclude that children's participation in research could be improved by actively incorporating the attending physician and by educating the public so that research attitudes can be based on accurate information.
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