Guidance synthesis. Medical research for and with older people in Europe: Proposed ethical guidance for good clinical practice: Ethical considerations

L. Hugonot-Diener, AP-HP, groupe hospitalier Paris-centre. Broca Hospital, Department of Geriatrics, 54-56 rue Pascal, 75013 Paris,
The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging (Impact Factor: 3). 08/2013; 17(7):625-7. DOI: 10.1007/s12603-013-0340-0
Source: PubMed


In Europe the population is ageing rapidly. Older people are taking many medicinal products daily and these may not necessarily be suitable for them. Publications show that older patients are underrepresented in clinical trials, especially those over 75 years, with multiple co-morbidities, concomitant treatments and/or frailty. This document provides a summary of recommendations on ethical aspects of clinical trials with older people, who may in some cases be considered a vulnerable patient population. The EFGCP's Geriatric Medicine Working Party (GMWP) has developed this guidance to promote such research and to support health care professionals in their efforts. ETHICAL, SCOPE AND CONTEXT: The definition of a geriatric patient is reviewed. Frail and vulnerable patients, who are a minority of geriatric patients, should be included whenever it is relevant. The legal context is described. THE PROCESS OF INFORMED CONSENT: All adults should be presumed capable of consent, unless proven otherwise; informed consent must be sought for all older people who are able to consent. A simple, short and easy-to-understand information sheet and consent form will contribute to improving the readability and understanding of the older participant. A participant guide and the use of a simple tool to ensure decision making capacity, are recommended. Whenever older people are unable to consent, their assent should be sought systematically using adequate information, in addition to seeking the consent of their legal or authorised representative as appropriate. ETHICS COMMITTEES: Research ethics committees need internal and/or external geriatric expertise to balance the benefits and risks of research in older people and to appreciate and recognise their autonomy. DESIGN AND ANALYSES: Design and Analyses should be adapted to the objectives with appropriate outcomes and are not different from other clinical trials.

The absence of proper recruitment or insufficient presence of older patients in clinical development plans for new medicinal products is detrimental; there is a need to improve evidence-based knowledge, understanding and management of their conditions and treatment. The aim of this guidance is to facilitate clinical research for and with the older patient population. The long version of the guidance will be available on the EFGCP's website:

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Available from: Laurence Hugonot, Aug 09, 2015

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