Background: The Vaccine Assessment using Linked Data (VALiD) trial compared opt-in and opt-out parental consent for a population-based childhood vaccine safety surveillance program using data linkage. A subsequent telephone interview of all households enrolled in the trial elicited parental intent regarding the return or non-return of reply forms for opt-in and opt-out consent. This paper describes the rationale for the trial and provides an overview of the design and methods.
Methods/design: Single-centre, single-blind, randomised controlled trial (RCT) stratified by firstborn status. Mothers who gave birth at one tertiary South Australian hospital were randomised at six weeks post-partum to receive an opt-in or opt-out reply form, along with information explaining data linkage. The primary outcome at 10 weeks post-partum was parental participation in each arm, as indicated by the respective return or non-return of a reply form (or via telephone or email response). A subsequent telephone interview at 10 weeks post-partum elicited parental intent regarding the return or non-return of the reply form, and attitudes and knowledge about data linkage, vaccine safety, consent preferences and vaccination practices. Enrolment began in July 2009 and 1,129 households were recruited in a three-month period. Analysis has not yet been undertaken. The participation rate and selection bias for each method of consent will be compared when the data are analysed.
Discussion: The VALiD RCT represents the first trial of opt-in versus opt-out consent for a data linkage study that assesses consent preferences and intent compared with actual opting in or opting out behaviour, and socioeconomic factors. The limitations to generalisability are discussed.
Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000332022.