Concise Consent Forms Appreciated—Still Not Comprehended: Applying Revised Common Rule Guidelines in Online Studies

Concise Consent Forms Appreciated—Still Not Comprehended: Applying Revised Common Rule Guidelines in Online Studies
Research Article 
Evan K. Perrault, Seth P. McCullock
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 6 June 2019 
Abstract
As informed consent documents have historically gotten lengthier, recent revisions to federal Common Rule guidelines now require consent forms that are “concise” and presented in ways that “facilitate comprehension.” The current research sought to apply these guidelines by developing a consent process for an online study that was only 71 words and also allowed participants a choice to either continue directly to the study or learn more about the study to which they were consenting. All participants (100%, N = 429) decided to continue directly to the study, choosing to forgo additional information about the study and the institutional review board (IRB) approval process. Participants indicated they liked this streamlined consent process, even though on average they only comprehended about half of the information this streamlined process contained. A plurality of participants indicated they would like to see this style of streamlined consent continued in future online studies. However, if we want to continue referring to informed consent as informed, future research should be welcomed and supported by IRBs to seek ways to apply the newest Common Rule guidelines while increasing comprehension; otherwise, informed consent will likely always remain an oxymoron.

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