Global Health Priorities

Enhancing Consent in the Health Care Context

This project will develope theories to help understand what influences patients decisions and determine the role of manipulation and nugding in the health care context. it will also explore important ethical challenges related to this, and how to best deal with them. The findings will be condensed into clarified policy recommendations.

Informed Consent
Informed Consent

Main content

Informed consent
Informed consent, which means informed, voluntary, and decisionally-capacitated consent, is required across a wide swath of human activities, including employment, medical care, medical research, professional relationships, and so forth. Underlying this requirement is the value placed in liberal societies on allowing for the pursuit of rival conceptions of the good life, thereby respecting the autonomy of individuals to make decisions in matters that concern their own welfare.

Project aims 

  • To develop a theory of what constitutes undue influence on such decisions - in particular influence exerted through various forms of manipulation - that makes explicit its connections with non-autonomous decision-making.
  • To determine what role, if any, "nudges" and other interventions can legitimately play in enhancing decision-making in the health care context.

Exploring the role of empowerment, autonomy and nudging 
In particular, the project focuses on two cases which have been little explored in the literature. First, the use of empowerment strategies in nurse-patient relationships to enhance patients' capacity to make informed decisions. Second, the use of "nudges" to guide or manipulate the health-related life-style choices of socially disadvantaged individuals. It is argued that both cases raise important ethical challenges.

Through conceptual analysis of key terms, such as "empowerment" and "autonomy", as well as thorough investigation into the impact of social and cultural constraints on the autonomy of individuals' health-related life-style choices, the project will suggest how best to deal with these challenges. To make the analysis practically relevant, the general findings will be condensed into clarified policy recommendations.