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J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics. 2008 Mar;3(1):89-97. doi: 10.1525/jer.2008.3.1.89.

Are We Misjudging How Well Informed Consent Forms are Read?

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  • 1University at Albany.


UNDERSTANDING THAT INFORMED CONSENT forms are provided to be read and comprehended, this study compares the research assistant's perception of comprehension with the actual time potential participants spend reading their consent form. After providing information verbally to two samples of women, research assistants observed as the women reviewed and signed the consent form recording the time spent reading and the assistant's impression of reading behavior. Over half of the women "read" their consent forms in thirty seconds or less before signing. Despite the brief time participants actually read, research assistants reported that 38%-74% (depending on the sample) appeared to have completely read the forms. Research to determine if timing aids will improve research assistants' assessment of participant reading behaviors should be considered.

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