Assessment of the Appropriateness of the i-CONSENT Guideline Recommendations for Improving Understanding of the Informed Consent Process in Clinical Studies

Assessment of the Appropriateness of the i-CONSENT Guideline Recommendations for Improving Understanding of the Informed Consent Process in Clinical Studies
Fons-Martínez J, Ferrer-Albero C, Diez-Domingo J
Research Square, 5 April 2021
Abstract
Background
The H2020 i-CONSENT project has developed a set of guidelines that offer ethical recommendations and practical tools aimed at making the informed consent process in clinical studies more comprehensive, tailored, and inclusive. An analysis of the appropriateness of some of its novel recommendations was carried out by a group of experts representing different stakeholders.
Methods
An adaptation of the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method was used to assess the level of agreement on the recommendations among 14 representatives of different stakeholders, including patients, regulators, investigators, ethics experts, and the pharmaceutical industry. The process included two rounds of rating and a virtual meeting.
Results
Fifty-three recommendations were evaluated. After the first round, 34 recommendations were judged appropriate; 19 were judged uncertain; and none was judged inappropriate. After the second round, 9 uncertain changed to appropriate. All recommendations rated medians of 6.5-9 on a 1-9 scale (1 = extremely inappropriate, 5 = uncertain, 9 = extremely appropriate). The sections “General recommendations” and “Gender perspective during the consent process for clinical studies” showed the highest uncertainty rating. The four keys to improving the understanding of the ICP in clinical studies are to: (1) consider consent a two-way continuous interaction that begins at the first contact with the potential participant and continues until the end of the study; (2) improve investigators’ communication skills; (3) co-create the information; and (4) use a layered approach, including information to compensate for the potential participant’s possible lack of health literacy and a glossary of terms.
Conclusions
The RAND/UCLA method has demonstrated validity for assessing the appropriateness of recommendations in ethical guidelines. The recommendations of the i-CONSENT guidelines were mostly judged appropriate by all stakeholders involved in the informed consent process.

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