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Code of Conduct

MR Subjects' Rights by MR Subjects Type

Z. Vulnerable MR subjects



Vulnerable MR subjects are those who for whatever reason could be more susceptible than normal to physical or mental stress induced by the research process. Patients may well prove to be vulnerable MR subjects because of their age, physical or mental health. A vulnerable MR subject could be someone who is HIV positive or has cancer, a psychiatric illness or is physically handicapped.

What to Consider When Interviewing Vulnerable Patients


If the MR subjects are considered vulnerable, then the following questions should be considered:

  • Is the market research justifiable?
  • Is the nature of interview/tasks involved appropriate?
  • Should a carer be present or on hand if required?
  • Is additional time or the provision of breaks needed?


When a potentially sensitive issue has been discussed with a vulnerable MR subject members may provide information or relevant helpline information.


In the UK the Mental Capacity Act passed in April 2005 enforced in 2007 provides codes of conduct on how vulnerable adults who lack the capacity to consent for themselves should be consented into research. The Act allows for another adult such as a next of kin or legal representative to consent on their behalf, the patient’s doctor cannot give this consent alone. However there is an onus on the researcher to withdraw the MR subject from the study if they show any sign of being unhappy or distressed by being included in the study.

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