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To cite this article: Aisha Y. Malik (2011): Physician-Researchers’ Experiences of the Consent Process in the Sociocultural Context of a Developing Country, AJOB Primary Research, 2:3, 38-46


Background: International guidelines for medical research involving human subjects maintain the primacy of informed consent while recognizing cultural diversity.

Methods: This paper draws on empirical data obtained from interviews with physician-researchers in teaching hospitals of Lahore, Pakistan. The data identify social and cultural factors that affect the consent process for participants in research.

Results: This paper presents variable findings with regards to communication, comprehension and decision-making. While some physicians consider that social factors such as lack of education, a patriarchal family system and skepticism of research can make patients dependent on either the physician-researcher or the family, others believe that patients do make independent decisions.
Conclusions: In light of the findings, the paper ends with a recommendation for communication and decision-making that  is sensitive to the local socio-cultural environment while at the same time meeting the ethical imperative of respect for persons.

Key words: decision-making, consent process, empirical ethics, developing world [bio]ethics.

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