Parents' attitudes towards and perceptions of involving minors in medical research from the Japanese perspective

Yasue Fukuda*, Koji Fukuda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Children's intentions should be respected. Parents are the key persons involved in decision-making related to their children. In Japan, the appropriate ages and standards for a child's consent and assent, approval, and decision-making are not clearly defined, which makes the process of obtaining consent and assent for clinical research complex. The purpose of this paper is as follows: to understand the attitudes and motives of parents concerning children's participation in medical research and the factors influencing their decision-making. We also sought to clarify who has the right to be involved in decisions regarding children's participation in research. Methods: A semi-structured Internet survey on parents' opinions and attitudes and preferences concerning medical research involvement was conducted. Children were divided into three age groups (6-10-year-olds, 11-14-year-olds, and 15-18-year-olds), with three illness severity categories. Possible correlations between the number of children, children's ages, parents' educational levels, and parents' attitudes were examined. Results: Among the participants, 42.3% recognized the term "informed consent." The proportion of participants who understood "informed consent" increased with educational level. Four out of five participants did not know, or had not heard of, the term "informed assent." Furthermore, the percentage of those who understood the term "informed assent" increased with academic level. Participants generally believed in prioritizing parents' opinions over children's, and that parents and children would ideally reach a joint decision. Although many parents favored collaborative decision-making, they also wanted their own will reflected in the decision and felt they should receive important information before their children do. Decision-making was affected by the condition's severity and prognosis. This indicates that most Japanese parents believe that their children have the right to know their disease name and treatment; nonetheless, they should be protected. Parents' values and judgments regarding medical intervention involving their children varied. Conclusions: Children's ability to consent to treatment and research believed to be in their best interests should be assessed appropriately. They should be permitted to provide consent or assent, and their views should be respected. Involving children in decision-making fosters more open communication and transparency between medical professionals, parents, and children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
JournalBMC Medical Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 21


  • Children
  • Informed assent
  • Informed consent
  • Medical research
  • Medical treatment
  • Minors
  • Parental attitude
  • Parental permission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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