This article is a description of the consent requirements for authors submitting articles that describe detailed clinical material about clients. Our aim is to remind authors of the need to get informed consent from the client for publication of any clinical material in Reformulation, and, also, to provide two types of consent form that can be photocopied and used by authors. All authors must gain written consent for their submission of case material. The consent form should be submitted with the article so that the editors can be sure that it has been obtained. It is not enough to disguise the individual by changing names or details, as the individual, and their relatives, would still be able to identify themselves and could be distressed and make a complaint. This policy on consent applies not just within ACAT and to Reformulation, but to all scientific publications. There may also be specific policies in place by the author’s employing organisation or professional body, and authors are welcome to use consent forms from these sources if they wish.
It is recognised that some clients’ capacity to give consent is impaired or legally deemed absent, for example, some people with learning disabilities, brain injury, or a dementia. However, it is important that work with these more disabled clients can be published. A blanket ban on publication, in these circumstances, denies the voice of those clients and may contribute to an assumption that such clients cannot have CAT. Guidance on capacity and how to seek consent in people whose capacity is impaired is given in the Department of Health’s Good Practice in Consent Implementation Guide (2001).
No one else can give consent on behalf of an adult who lacks capacity and all attempts should be made to gain the client’s consent. At the very end of this article we have included an example of a consent form designed specifically for an article in this issue of Reformulation for an individual with learning difficulties and this could be used as a model for others (Nicola Murphy, 2008). In these circumstances, it would also be good practice to involve the client’s carer, relative, or an advocate in a decision to write case material about the client and they could also sign the consent form to show that they have no objections.
Although children acquire rights to give consent for themselves as they grow older, and are deemed to be competent from the age of 16, parents retain the right to give consent on the child’s behalf until they are 18. For a number of years, both the child and the parent have the right to give consent, since children under 16 who have sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable them to understand fully what is proposed are also regarded as competent to consent. Best practice would suggest that the writer should seek consent from both the child and his or her parent to publish the material, but the child’s view would be paramount. (Detailed information is given in the Department of Health’s Guide referred to above).
Authors should ensure that the client is given a copy of the consent form with an address and contact number should they wish to withdraw consent at a later time. A copy of the consent form should be placed in the client’s file. The client should be offered the opportunity to read the article if he/she wishes.
For more details, authors may wish to refer to the codes of practice below:
Alison Jenaway and Julie Lloyd
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