Research Ethics Review: Social Care and Social Science Research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Jonathan Parker, Bridget Penhale, David Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper considers concerns that social care research may be stifled by health-focused ethical scrutiny under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the requirement for an ‘appropriate body’ to determine ethical approval for research involving people who are deemed to lack capacity under the Act to make decisions concerning their participation and consent in research. The current study comprised an online survey of current practice in university research ethics committees (URECs), and explored through semi-structured interviews the views of social researchers engaged in or exploring work concerning people who may, under the Act, lack the capacity to make decisions to consent to participate in a research programme. The paper concludes that there was a lack of overt knowledge of and reference to the implications of the Act for research and some concerns that a restrictive focus on health-related scrutiny might prevent social care research from taking place. There was also a degree of creativity shown by social care researchers in responding to changing demands and a wish to assist people in making decisions to participate where possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-400
JournalEthics and Social Welfare
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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