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Informed consent for paediatric clinical trials in Europe
  1. Pirkko Lepola1,2,
  2. Allison Needham3,
  3. Jo Mendum4,
  4. Peter Sallabank5,
  5. David Neubauer6,
  6. Saskia de Wildt7
  1. 1Finnish Investigators Network for Pediatric Medicines, Clinical Research Institute Helsinki University Central Hospital Ltd, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Tampere Center for Child Health Research, 33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
  3. 3The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, Canada
  4. 4PRA Health Sciences, Reading, UK
  5. 5RegulinX, Surbiton, UK
  6. 6Department of Child, Adolescent and Developmental Neurology, University Children's Hospital/University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  7. 7Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Mrs Pirkko Lepola, Finnish Investigators Network for Pediatric Medicines, Clinical Research Institute Helsinki University Central Hospital, 00290, Helsinki, Finland; pirkko.lepola{at}


Objective Paediatric clinical trials are often conducted as multinational trials. Informed consent or assent is part of the ethics committee approval for clinical trials. The consent requirements vary between countries due to national laws and regulations, which are not harmonised in Europe. These discrepancies can present challenges for paediatric clinical trials. The aim of this study was to assemble these consent and assent requirements across the European Economic Area. The collated national requirements have not been publicly available before, despite a real need for this data.

Methods National consent and assent requirements for paediatric clinical trials were analysed and collated for 25 European Union Member States and 2 European Free Trade Association countries until the end of 2014. The data were retrieved from existing databases and through communication with the competent authorities and selected ethics committees. Results from a literature search for international or national guidelines, declarations and conventions and academic societies' publications served as comparison material.

Results Consent and assent requirements are heterogeneous across these countries. We compiled our findings in ‘The Informed Consent and Assent Tool Kit’, a table including 27 national consent and assent requirements listed by individual country.

Conclusions Wide variation in paediatric consents and assents presents challenges for multinational paediatric trials in Europe. The toolkit is available for all those involved in paediatric clinical trials and ethics committees, providing a new platform for proactive feedback on informed consent requirements, and may finally lead to a needed harmonisation process, including uniform standards accepted across Europe.

  • Ethics
  • paediatrics
  • clinical trials
  • informed consent of minors
  • regulations and guidelines

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  • Contributors Literature search was done by PL, AN, JM, PS and DN; data collection and figures were done by PL, JM, PS and AN; Data interpretation, writing and approval of final version were done by all authors.

  • Funding This research has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 261060 (Global Research in Paediatrics—GRiP network of excellence).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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