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Australas Med J. 2011;4(8):463-8. doi: 10.4066/AMJ.2011.903. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

To waiver or not to waiver? The dilemma of informed consent in emergency department suicide prevention research.

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Melbourne School of Health Sciences, University of Melbourne.


Ethical issues are inherent in research with vulnerable populations; researchers are encouraged to view these issues as challenges rather than obstacles. This paper details the request of a suicide prevention research collaboration to collect data in specific circumstances involving the waiver of consent. The conflicting multi-ethics committees' responses to this request are examined, with the purpose of highlighting the resultant impact of delayed multi-site ethical approvals. Implications of the committees' responses for this research in terms of being able to address the original stated project aims of improving future acute health service provision to suicidal individuals are discussed.


Research; emergency department; ethical dilemma; self-discharge; self-harm; suicide

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