A Patient-Centered Approach to Informed Consent: Results from a Survey and Randomized Trial

Med Decis Making. 2016 Aug;36(6):726-40. doi: 10.1177/0272989X16636844. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


Purpose: Traditional informed consent documents tend to be too lengthy and technical to facilitate proper patient engagement. Patient-centered, short informed consent content could be equally informative, while minimizing patient burden and producing greater patient engagement. This study aimed to develop and evaluate patient-centered, patient-designed paper and video informed consent formats.

Methods: Two studies were conducted. In study 1, 118 self-identifying asthma patients recruited from a national, online pool completed survey tasks from their personal computers. Participants in study 1 were randomly assigned to examine sections of a standard informed consent document for an asthma trial and to select information they deemed critical to their decision making. In study 2, a sample of 83 self-identifying asthma patients completed experimental tasks in a university laboratory. Participants in study 2 were randomly assigned to a full informed consent document; a shortened, patient-designed informed consent document created from study 1; or a video with content matched to the shortened paper form.

Results: Study 1 yielded a more readable, concise version of a standard informed consent document (5 v. 17 pages). This shortened, patient-designed form closely met normative criteria for good clinical practice. In study 2, participants who viewed either the shortened paper consent or video reported greater engagement than those viewing the standard paper consent, without lowered performance on any other decision-relevant variables (i.e., comprehension, judged risk/benefit, feelings of trust). The video consent format did not cause increased enrollment.

Conclusions: Results suggest that providing concise informed consent content, systematically developed from patients' self-reported information needs, may be more effective at engaging and informing clinical trial participants than the traditional consent approach, without detriment to trial comprehension, risk assessment, or enrollment.

Keywords: decision aids/tools; detailed methodology; patient decision making; randomized trial methodology; risk communication or risk perception.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult