Improving consent forms for first-in-human trials through participant feedback

Improving consent forms for first-in-human trials through participant feedback
Hannah Claire Sibold, Gavin Paul Campbell, John Bourgeois, Margie D. Dixon, R Donald Harvey, Rebecca D. Pentz
Journal of Clinical Oncology, 28 May 2021; 39(15)
Risks and benefits of investigational agents that have not been tested in humans are, at best, incompletely characterized in nonclinical investigations. Despite the growing emphasis to include patient voices in clinical trial design, no published research has explored patient preferences on how best to convey the information that the agent has not been tested in humans. This study established that First in Human (FIH) consent forms present this information in different locations and queried participants for their input on the preferable FIH consent form structure.
Consent forms for FIH oncology trials open to accrual at Winship Cancer Institute in 2019-2020 were analyzed for (1) the location of the mention that the study drug has not been used in humans before (FIH information), (2) the location of animal and other nonclinical data, and (3) placement of the risks section. Patients offered enrollment in a FIH trial were eligible for this study. Participants were interviewed during a clinic visit after consent was obtained. An ethics researcher asked questions about the participant’s opinions on the wording and placement of the FIH, nonclinical, and risk information in the specific trial consent form. All interviews were audio-recorded and double coded by two independent coders. The location of FIH and nonclinical data in the consent forms was compared to the patient’s suggested location for this information.
Saturation of themes was reached after interviewing 17 (17/19, 89% accrual) participants who were enrolled in 9 different FIH trials. Twenty FIH consents were qualitatively analyzed. Preferred placement compared to actual consent placement is listed in the table. 82% (14/17) of participants thought that nonclinical data on risks and efficacy was important to mention. 95% (19/20) of consents listed nonclinical data and most participants thought the placement in the consent was appropriate but 18% (3/17) of participants wanted the information earlier in the consent. No consent forms that were analyzed had the risks section before the study schedule; however, 47% (8/17) of participants wanted to move the risks sections before the study schedule.
There is considerable variation in the layout of FIH consent forms that does not align with patient preferences. Standardization of FIH consent forms to better reflect patient input is essential in order to promote understandability of these important yet sometimes misunderstood clinical trials and to ensure ethical informed consent.

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