A Digital Decision Support Tool to Enhance Decisional Capacity for Clinical Trial Consent: Design and Development

JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Jun 6;7(6):e10525. doi: 10.2196/10525.


Background: Challenges in the clinical and research consent process indicate the need to develop tailored, supportive interventions for all individuals, especially those with limited decisional capacity. We developed a tool to enhance shared decision making and the decisional capacity for individuals with fragile X syndrome engaged in the informed consent process for a clinical trial.

Objective: We describe the design and development process of a tablet-based decision support tool.

Methods: Our development process for the decision support tool employed a user-centered, feature-driven design approach. We began with an environmental scan to catalog relevant mobile apps, and we conducted interviews with people with a diagnosis of fragile X syndrome and clinicians at fragile X syndrome clinics. To develop content for the decision support tool, we extracted key concepts and elements from a real clinical trial consent form and rewrote it using plain-language principles.

Results: We used iterative testing to continuously evaluate and revise the decision support tool content. The tool was finalized in 2016 and contained a series of vignettes, quiz questions, and a sorting activity. A randomized controlled trial was then conducted to compare the efficacy of the decision support tool with a standard verbal presentation of material that mimicked typical informed consent practice.

Conclusions: The informed consent process is primed to leverage digital health resources that promote increased understanding and engagement of research participants in the consent and research process. The process and experiences we describe may provide a model for other digital health design and development initiatives seeking to create more interactive and accessible decision support resources.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02465931; https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02465931 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6zx2KY9YW).

Keywords: decision support; digital health; fragile X syndrome; informed consent; intellectual disability; telemedicine.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02465931