A pilot study of simple interventions to improve informed consent in clinical research: Feasibility, approach, and results

Nancy E. Kass, Holly A. Taylor, Joseph Ali, Kristina Hallez, Lelia Chaisson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Research suggests that participants do not always adequately understand studies. While some consent interventions increase understanding, methodologic challenges have been raised in studying consent outside of actual trial settings. This study examined the feasibility of testing two consent interventions in actual studies and measured effectiveness of interventions in improving understanding. Methods: Participants enrolling in any of eight ongoing clinical trials were sequentially assigned to one of three different informed consent strategies for enrollment in their clinical trial. Control participants received standard consent procedures for their trial. Participants in the first intervention arm received a bulleted fact sheet summarizing key study information. Participants in the second intervention arm received the bulleted fact sheet and also engaged in a feedback Q&A session. Later, patients answered closed- and open-ended questions to assess patient understanding and literacy. Descriptive statistics, Wilcoxon -Mann -Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests were generated to assess correlations; regression analysis determined predictors of understanding. Results: 144 participants enrolled. Using regression analysis, participants receiving the second intervention scored 7.6 percentage points higher (p = .02) on open-ended questions about understanding than participants in the control, although unadjusted comparisons did not reach statistical significance. Conclusions: Our study supports the hypothesis that patients receiving both bulleted fact sheets and a Q&A session had higher understanding compared to standard consent. Fact sheets and short structured dialog are quick to administer and easy to replicate across studies and should be tested in larger samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Trials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 5 2015


  • Bioethics
  • Health literacy
  • Informed consent
  • Research ethics
  • Understanding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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