B3-2: Capacity Assessment and Consenting in a Major Pediatric Hospital in Ontario
14:45 - 15:30
In Ontario, there is no minimum age for consenting to health care. As mandated by the Ontario Health Care Consent Act, a minor, regardless of age, should be assessed by a regulated health care professional for capacity to consent. Capacity is defined by the Act as the ability to understand the information required to make a decision. It is not age-based. Given that there is no formal legislation or guidance for consenting for research purposes, the HCCA is used as a reference for consent for research participation in children.
Consenting participants for research studies is a challenge that is unique to the paediatric population, where capacity is assigned an age, regardless of developmental theories that support the ability of a child to make their own decisions and determine what is right for them. The Research Ethics Board is responsible for ensuring that participants, regardless of age, are given the opportunity to be able to self-determine whether they wish to be part of a research study or not. Through assessment of capacity, the study team should be able to assess whether or not a child can consent for him/herself and when assent is applicable.
The session will go through the philosophical foundations and developmental theories which provide the basis for using capacity assessment rather than age as a determining factor for child consent and assent. Cases will be provided to illustrate these as well as provide opportunities for discussion.
Keywords: Capacity assessment, consent, children, assent