Mandatory Reporting and Research

According to Massachusetts law any physician, medical intern, hospital personnel engaged in the examination, care or treatment of persons, medical examiner, psychologist, nurse, public or private school teacher, educational administrator, guidance or family counselor, drug and alcoholism counselor, psychiatrist, and clinical social worker, etc., is considered a mandatory reporter. What this means is that these individuals are required by law to report the abuse of children.

This information is important to disclose to potential participants as a part of the consent process. Subjects must be informed that there are instances where breach of confidentiality is required by law. Thus, all projects that involve minors and in which the researchers involved are mandatory reporters, should include a statement in the consent and assent forms that indicates this to the subject. A statement, such as the following, should be incorporated in the "Confidentiality" section of the consent form:

There is one exception to confidentiality we need to make you aware of. In certain research studies, it is our ethical responsibility to report situations of child abuse, child neglect, or any life-threatening situation to appropriate authorities. However, we are not seeking this type of information in our study nor will you be asked questions about these issues.