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Ethics and the impossibility of the consent form: Ethnography in a Danish nursing home

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

  • Emma Jelstrup Balkin, Aalborg Universitet
  • ,
  • Mette Geil Kollerup, University College Nordjylland, Aalborg Universitet
  • ,
  • Ingjerd Gåre Kymre, Nord University
  • ,
  • Bente Martinsen
  • Mette Grønkjær, Aalborg Universitet

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a nursing home in northern Denmark, this article addresses challenges experienced in putting formal ethics requirements into practice. We consider how to unite procedural ethics with actual, lived ethics, when researching with vulnerable participants who live with a cognitively impairing condition. The article centers on the story of one resident, who wanted to share her experiences with what she had perceived as inadequate care, but who baulked once the wordy consent form was produced. The resident panicked that her words could now be used against her, that talking with the researcher would (further) compromise her care. She was caught in a bind, on the one hand she had a deep desire to tell her story, on the other the piece of paper in her hand threatened to trigger her anxiety and depression. In this article we therefore approach the consent form as an agent. By mapping out these unintended consequences of the consent form, we wish to draw attention to the complexities of ethical research conduct in practice, ultimately arguing that the concept of appropriate informed consent should be broadened so that it is sensitive to the lifeworld of participants.

TidsskriftJournal of Aging Studies
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union's H2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the MSCA-ITN-2018 under grant agreement No 813928 . The financial sponsor played no role in the design, execution or analysis of data, nor in the writing of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

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