What is fully informed consent?

Because you have the right to determine what happens to your body it is essential that you give your consent before you donate samples for research.


Consent is an important part of everyday life and in most cases it is an informal process. For example, if you go to the hairdresser you consent to having your hair cut without having to sign a form. Consent in this case is given by your actions- going to the salon, sitting in the chair, moving your head to make the task easier. If a stranger sits behind you on the bus and cuts off your hair without your permission this would count as a serious assault!


Consent for the donation of samples of samples for medical research is more formal. The person asking you to give consent has to provide you with sufficient information for you to make up your mind, in other words consent has to be “fully informed”.


In some forms of medical research the amount of information needed to meet the requirement for fully informed consent is very large- for example if you are being asked to take part in a drug trial. For the donation of samples the list is not so long but there are still several topics which need to be covered. The basics are covered below.