Protecting the personal rights of human subjects is a crucial aspect of conducting any kind of research, especially in the case of vulnerable groups. Such vulnerable groups may include subjects with diminished mental or intellectual capacities, incarcerated persons, children and students, subjects in uneven relationships, or individuals who experience certain difficulties comprehending the language of the conducted study. However, it is imperative to ensure that the subjects decide to participate of their own accord. There are certain measures of protecting the participants from being forced into the process.
Acquiring the informed consent of a person with a mental or intellectual disability might prove to be the most challenging task. In order to ensure the protection of their personal rights, consent must be secured from the individual in question. If their condition is recurring or non-permanent, consent should be procured at a time when the disability does not prevent them from agreeing or refusing. If the condition is permanent and consent can be acquired through a legal representative, the potential refusal of the individual should nevertheless be respected.
In the case of children, the parents’ or legal guardians’ consent should be acquired, as well as the child’s consent. However, any possible discomfort must be explained to the child in a suitable form, and the child’s refusal must be respected even if the guardian’s consent is already obtained. Moreover, people in uneven relationships might be forced to participate, hence the need to eliminate the possibility of coercion. All subjects must be assured that their refusal to take part in the study will not lead to any ramifications.