Consent for Delivery Room Studies: What Can Be Learned from Perceptions of Parents

Consent for Delivery Room Studies: What Can Be Learned from Perceptions of Parents
Original Paper
Maria C. den Boer, Mirjam Houtlosser, Ruben S. G. M. Witlox, Henriëtte A. van Zanten, Martine C. de Vries, Arjan B. te Pas
Neonatology, 18 February 2022
Open Access
Obtaining ethically valid consent to participate in delivery room (DR) studies from parents facing an imminent premature birth can be challenging. This study aims to provide insight into parental experiences with and perceptions of consent for DR studies.
Semistructured interviews were conducted with parents of very and extreme preterm infants. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the qualitative data analysis software Atlas. ti V.8.4.
Twenty-five parents were interviewed. Despite being in an emotional and stressful situation, most parents considered being approached for DR studies as valuable. According to parents, this was mostly due to appropriate timing and communication, compassion, and investigators not being obtrusive. Interviewed parents generally decided to accept or decline study participation based on perceived risk. Parents differed widely in how risk of specific study interventions was perceived, but agreed on the fact that parental consent is needed for DR studies that involve risk. There was no consensus among parents on deferred consent for DR studies running at our NICU. However, parents considered deferred consent appropriate for observational studies. Furthermore, it became clear that parental misunderstanding of various aspects of DR studies, including aims, the concept of randomization, and risk associated with specific interventions, was common.
Insight into parental perceptions of consent for DR studies allowed us to determine areas where the validity of parental consent can be improved. Further research on parental perspectives for consent for DR studies will allow us to establish consent procedures that are considered both valid and valuable.

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