To assess the efficacy, with respect to participant understanding of information, of a computer‐based approach to communication about complex, technical issues that commonly arise when seeking informed consent for clinical research trials.
Design, setting and participants:
An open, randomised controlled study of 60 patients with diabetes mellitus, aged 27–70 years, recruited between August 2006 and October 2007 from the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Alfred Hospital and Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne.
Participants were asked to read information about a mock study via a computer‐based presentation (n = 30) or a conventional paper‐based information statement (n = 30). The computer‐based presentation contained visual aids, including diagrams, video, hyperlinks and quiz pages.
Main outcome measures:
Understanding of information as assessed by quantitative and qualitative means.
Assessment scores used to measure level of understanding were significantly higher in the group that completed the computer‐based task than the group that completed the paper‐based task (82% v 73%; P = 0.005). More participants in the group that completed the computer‐based task expressed interest in taking part in the mock study (23 v 17 participants; P = 0.01). Most participants from both groups preferred the idea of a computer‐based presentation to the paper‐based statement (21 in the computer‐based task group, 18 in the paper‐based task group).
A computer‐based method of providing information may help overcome existing deficiencies in communication about clinical research, and may reduce costs and improve efficiency in recruiting participants for clinical trials.
Ethics and law, Informatics and computers, Statistics, epidemiology and research design
Karunaratne, A.S., Korenman, S.G., Thomas, S.L., Myles, P.S. and Komesaroff, P.A. (2010), Improving communication when seeking informed consent: a randomised controlled study of a computer‐based method for providing information to prospective clinical trial participants. Medical Journal of Australia, 192: 388-392. doi:10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03561.