Informed Consent: Tell and Agree

Inform – to tell. Consent – to agree. Subjects – people.  Here are three points to consider to make sure people agree to what you are telling them.

 

Reading Level

In one consent form, the phrase “We are interested in the negotiation and articulation of gender roles within your community.”  Another consent form informed subjects that “Goals are postulated to exist within hierarchies.”  Hold on, I have to think… if this happens, your people may not consent.  They may dissent.  Everyone who reads the form has to understand all of it. 

 

You have been mired in your world of research for a long time, and the jargon is second nature. Read it out loud to someone in your household or an eighth grader. Make sure people without your reading level and level of interest in your study would know what they are agreeing to participate in if they consented. 

 

It is also a good idea to ask the subjects (people) you are testing your informed consent out on to repeat in their own words what your study is about, what they would be asked to do, and what risks they understood from the form. 

 

Language Issues

Be sure that the informed consent process is in the people’s first language. If I were doing my consent form in another language, I would use Google Translator and then experience some type of delay due to the form being, how do you say, wrong.  So it if you have a second language issue, get someone extremely fluent, like a human, to proofread your documents because the Institutional Review Board (IRB) may confirm your translation accuracy with their own human people. 

 

Presentation

Use headings and paragraphs to organize the form.  Add pictures and graphics that illustrate the message and what to do next.  Use shiny and ready-made software that can simplify all of this for you and give the whole Informed Consent process an appealing look to simply distribute online. 

 

The (IRB) must be certain that Informed Consent process makes information understandable to subjects. Learn more at the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative.  

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