Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 799–816 | Cite as

Consent for Data on Consent

  • Mollie Gerver


There are instances where the provider of an intervention, such as surgery, has failed to obtain necessary informed consent from the recipient of the intervention. Perhaps the surgeon has failed to warn the patient that she may go into a coma, or even be killed, from the surgery. Sometimes, as a result of this intervention, the recipient cannot give informed consent to researchers for the release of their personal data precisely because of the intervention. If they are in a coma, they cannot be reached. Sometimes, this personal data itself can prove that the provider of the intervention failed to obtain informed consent for the intervention. For example, a personal file may include a consent form that does not include warnings about the risk of falling into a coma from the surgery. Paradoxically, those who cannot give informed consent for the disclosure of their personal data on an intervention may have been especially ill-informed about the repercussions of the intervention. In such instances, should researchers ever use the data and disclose the data in their research? In an attempt to demonstrate when this dilemma may be relevant, and how it may be solved, I will present a real-world case of this dilemma in my own empirical research on refugees who agreed to repatriate to their countries of origin from Israel. I will consider what theories on consent, if any, can help us resolve this dilemma.


Informed consent Data disclosure Right to privacy Immigration Refugees 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

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