n South African Journal of Psychiatry - Can involuntarily admitted patients give informed consent to participation in research?

Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1608-9685
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6786



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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