There is a range of autonomy which study participants may have in deciding their participation in clinical research. One of the measures for safeguarding this right is the use of informed consent for clinical researches. Researchers refer to populations which have low autonomy as “vulnerable populations”; these are groups which may not be able to fairly decide for themselves whether to participate in clinical trials.
Examples of groups which are vulnerable populations include incarcerated persons, children, prisoners, soldiers, people under detention, migrants, persons exhibiting insanity or any other condition which precludes their autonomy, and to a lesser extent, any population for which there is reason to believe that the research study could seem particularly or unfairly persuasive or misleading. There are particular ethical problems using children in clinical trials.