Perceived challenges to obtaining informed consent for a time-sensitive emergency department study of pediatric status epilepticus: results of two focus groups

Acad Emerg Med. 2009 Aug;16(8):763-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2009.00455.x.


Objectives: The objective was to describe the perspective of research personnel on issues of informed consent in a time-sensitive clinical study under emergency circumstances.

Methods: The authors convened concurrent focus groups of research staff and investigators involved in a pharmacokinetic study of lorazepam for status epilepticus (SE). Moderators led discussion with open-ended questions on selected issues of parental consent, communication and understanding, patient assent, and comparison to other types of studies. Focus group transcripts were analyzed to identify themes and subthemes from the discussions.

Results: Most themes and subthemes were identified in both research staff and investigator focus groups. Focus group discussion points were categorized into three main themes: barriers to and enablers of informed consent, barriers to and enablers of actual enrollment, and overall ethical concerns about the research. Many of the issues identified were unique to emergency research.

Conclusions: From the perspectives of research staff and investigators enrolling patients in a time-sensitive emergency department study, the authors identified several areas of concern that should be addressed when planning future emergency studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Lorazepam / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Pediatrics*
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Lorazepam