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Most support Alzheimer's research based on family consent
Date:1/14/2009

study found.

"We wring our hands about this issue in ethics circles," Kim says, "but people seem to understand that we need to do this kind of research to find ways of treating Alzheimer's." Kim also notes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has formed an advisory committee that is looking at this issue.

Methodology: Survey data was based on the U-M Health and Retirement Study, a biennial survey of a nationally representative sample of Americans ages 51 and older funded by the National Institute on Aging.

The participants answered questions regarding one of four randomly assigned surrogate-based research scenarios: lumbar puncture study, a drug randomized control study, a vaccine study and a gene transfer study. Each participant answered three questions: whether our society should allow family surrogate consent, whether the individual would want to participate in the research, and whether the individual would allow a surrogate some or complete leeway to override stated personal preferences.

Findings: Most respondents in the survey stated that our society should allow family surrogate consent (68 percent to 83 percent, depending on the scenario) and would themselves want to participate in surrogate-based research (57 percent to 80 percent). Most also would grant some or complete leeway to their surrogates (55 percent to 67 percent), though these numbers were higher among people who were also willing to participate.

Although ethnic and racial minority groups were slightly less willing to participate in surrogate-based research, there was overall broad support for surrogate-based research even in these groups.

Significance: Little research, and no national research, has been conducted about public opinion of surrogate-based research, Kim notes. The rates of Alzheimer's disease are rising rapidly; in 2000, there were 4.5 million Americans with the incurable disease, and by 2050, this number is pr
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Contact: Katie Vloet or Margarita Bauza
kgazella@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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