Objective: To determine public attitudes towards emergency research, exception from informed consent (EFIC) and a specific proposed clinical trial using EFIC.
Methods: As part of a planned community consultation activity, a survey was conducted at a popular public venue. Participants answered demographic questions and then were asked their opinions on specifically described consent circumstances in emergency research, including the proposed EFIC trial. Multiple logistic and linear regression were used to determine respondent characteristics associated with specific attitudes.
Results: 1901 surveys were completed. The majority of respondents supported emergency research (88%) and the concept of surrogate consent by a legally authorized representative (78%). The concept of EFIC was less well supported (35%) but the application of EFIC was more accepted, especially when EFIC was applied to the respondent themselves (51%). The community believed the proposed EFIC study was acceptable (82%); a minority had concerns but most were related to patient safety and not to EFIC. Respondents with less education and lower incomes were less likely to express opinions about the consent and research concepts described.
Conclusions: Emergency research and the proposed EFIC trial is supported in this community. The concept of EFIC is less well supported but is more acceptable when a specific trial is described or when respondents consider EFIC for themselves. Specific respondent characteristics are associated with attitudes about research; this can assist in development of meaningful community consultation activities.