Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Revising the Declaration of Helsinki

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 08 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2837

Rapid Response:

Re: Revising the Declaration of Helsinki

Surely we need to be more nuanced about the term 'vulnerable' - all of us may be 'vulnerable' to different things at different points in time. Poor pregnant women and sex-workers may be vulnerable in terms of their health or exploitation by others, but in no way compromised in their ability to choose whether to be in a research project or not, provided it is properly explained and there are no other coercive factors in play.

It would be patronising indeed to consider that their vulnerability in one area made them vulnerable in all aspects and removed their right to choose for themselves.

'Vulnerability' is a rather over-exploited term and is itself vulnerable to misuse.

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 May 2013
Peter D Singleton
Health Informatician
Cambridge Health Informatics
Cambridge, CB3 9HH