Unique Aspects and Potential Ethical Challenges of Conducting Research Involving Elderly Persons

Compared to other research subjects, elders may be unique for a variety of reasons: (a) greater prevalence among elders of conditions [e.g., hearing and vision loss, diminished cognition, etc.] that may impair informed consent; (b) greater prevalence among elders of comorbid illnesses and other potential confounding variables that may make interpretation of study results difficult; (c) the captive nature of some populations of elders (e.g., residents of nursing homes) making them susceptible to coercion and breaches of confidentiality; and (d) evidence that elders have been unjustly excluded from research studies including those especially relevant to elders.

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