Informed Consent—We Can and Should Do Better

Informed Consent—We Can and Should Do Better
Invited Commentary – Ethics
Stefan C. Grant
JAMA Network Open, 28 April 2021; 4(4)
Open Access
…Informed consent generally is understood to represent a process, with the informed consent document having a central role. The characteristics of a well-designed consent form are well known: the document must contain information, some statutorily defined, necessary to allow a participant to make an informed decision; be written at a reading level appropriate for its audience; and be of a length that enables complete and thorough reading. Yet, the content and structure of this document has been the subject of discussion for at least 3 decades, with a consistent consensus throughout this time that these documents are too difficult to read, too complex, and too long and, as a result, frequently fail to facilitate truly informed consent by study participants. While much of the blame for the failure to provide sufficiently detailed, readable, and brief consent forms has been laid at the feet of sponsors and investigators, the reality is that, while it is possible to incorporate 2 of these 3 elements into a consent form, it is all but impossible to incorporate all 3, ie, concise, sufficiently detailed yet easily readable, for anything but the simplest of clinical trials…

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