Informed Consent for Online Research—Is Anybody Reading?: Assessing Comprehension and Individual Differences in Readings of Digital Consent Forms

Informed Consent for Online Research—Is Anybody Reading?: Assessing Comprehension and Individual Differences in Readings of Digital Consent Forms
Research Article
Caitlin Geier, Robyn B. Adams, Katharine M. Mitchell, Bree E. Holtz
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 24 May 2021
Abstract
Informed consent is an important part of the research process; however, some participants either do not read or skim the consent form. When participants do not read or comprehend informed consent, then they may not understand the potential benefits, risks, or details of the study before participating. This study used previous research to develop experimentally manipulated online consent forms utilizing various presentations of the consent form and interactive elements. Participants (n = 576) were randomly exposed to one of six form variations. Results found that the highly interactive condition was significantly better for comprehension than any of the other conditions. The highly interactive condition also performed better for readability, though not significantly. Further research should explore the effects of interactive elements to combat habituation and to engage participants with the parts of the consent form unique to the study.

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