Objective: To assess public views on emergency exception to informed consent in resuscitation research, public awareness of such studies, and effective methods of community consultation and public notification.
Methods: A face-to-face survey was conducted in two academic Level I trauma center emergency departments (EDs) in Oregon and Minnesota from June through August 2001.
Results: Five hundred thirty people completed the survey, with an 82% response rate. The mean age of the respondents was 41 years (range 18-95) with a standard deviation of 14.5; 46% were female and 64% white. Most (88%) believed that research subjects should be informed prior to being enrolled, while 49% believed enrolling patients without prior consent in an emergency situation would be acceptable and 70% (369) would not object to be entered into such a study without providing prospective informed consent. Informing and consulting the community as a substitute for patient consent in emergency research was thought to be reasonable by 45% of the respondents. Most respondents would prefer to be informed about a study using emergency exception from informed consent by radio and television media (42%). Two hundred fifty-eight respondents (49%) stated they would attend a community meeting; the less educated were more likely to attend than those with college degrees (OR = 0.53; 95% CI = 0.33 to 0.85, p = 0.008). However, only 5% knew of ongoing studies in their community using emergency exception from informed consent.
Conclusions: Most respondents disagreed with foregoing prospective informed consent for research participation even in emergency situations; however, many would be willing to participate in studies using emergency exception from informed consent. Most respondents would not attend community meetings, and would prefer to rely upon the media for information. Very few were aware of emergency exception from informed consent studies in their community. This suggests that current methods of community notification may not be effective.