By Emily E. Anderson, Susan B. Newman & Alicia K. Matthews Pages: 178-188
Purpose: Innovation will be required to improve the informed consent process in research. We aimed to obtain input from key stakeholders—research participants and those responsible for obtaining informed consent—to inform potential development of a multimedia informed consent “app.” Methods: This descriptive study used a mixed-methods approach. Five 90-minute focus groups were conducted with volunteer samples of former research participants and researchers/research staff responsible for obtaining informed consent. Participants also completed a brief survey that measured background information and knowledge and attitudes regarding research and the use of technology. Established qualitative methods were used to conduct the focus groups and data analysis. Results: We conducted five focus groups with 41 total participants: three groups with former research participants (total n = 22), and two groups with researchers and research coordinators (total n= 19). Overall, individuals who had previously participated in research had positive views regarding their experiences. However, further discussion elicited that the informed consent process often did not meet its intended objectives. Findings from both groups are presented according to three primary themes: content of consent forms, experience of the informed consent process, and the potential of technology to improve the informed consent process. A fourth theme, need for lay input on informed consent, emerged from the researcher groups. Conclusions: Our findings add to previous research that suggests that the use of interactive technology has the potential to improve the process of informed consent. However, our focus-group findings provide additional insight that technology cannot replace the human connection that is central to the informed consent process. More research that incorporates the views of key stakeholders is needed to ensure that multimedia consent processes do not repeat the mistakes of paper-based consent forms.
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