Can Broad Consent be Informed Consent?
In biobanks, a broader model of consent is often used and justified by a range of different strategies that make reference to the potential benefits brought by the research it will facilitate combined with the low level of risk involved (provided adequate measures are in place to protect privacy and confidentiality) or a questioning of the centrality of the notion of informed consent. Against this, it has been suggested that the lack of specific information about particular uses of the samples means that such consent cannot be fully autonomous and so is unethical. My answer to the title question is a definite 'yes'. Broad consent can be informed consent and is justified by appeal to the principle of respect for autonomy. Indeed, I will suggest that the distinction between the various kinds of consent is not a distinction between kinds of consent but between the kinds of choice a person makes. When an individual makes a choice (of any kind) it is important that they do so according to the standards of informed consent and consistent with the choice that they are making.