Research Involving Deception

In some types of studies, the nature or validity of research may require that subjects are not fully informed in advance about the intent of and/or procedures in a study. However, unless otherwise specified by COUHES, subjects in these studies may sign informed consent forms that contain information that will not compromise the research.

Such incomplete disclosure is justified only if it is clear that:

  • incomplete disclosure is truly necessary to accomplish the goals of the research,
  • there are no undisclosed risks to subjects that are more than minimal, and
  • there is an adequate plan for debriefing subjects, when appropriate, and for dissemination of research results to them. Debriefing should usually be in writing and should take place immediately after the subject's participation in the research.

Information about risks should never be withheld for the purpose of eliciting the cooperation of subjects, and truthful answers should always be given to direct questions about the research. Care should be taken to distinguish cases in which disclosure would destroy or invalidate the research from cases in which disclosure would simply inconvenience the investigator.

When prospective subjects are considering enrollment in such studies, they should be informed that some aspects of the research will not be revealed until the study is concluded.