Using a chat-based informed consent tool in large-scale genomic research

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2023 Sep 4:ocad181. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocad181. Online ahead of print.


Objective: We implemented a chatbot consent tool to shift the time burden from study staff in support of a national genomics research study.

Materials and methods: We created an Institutional Review Board-approved script for automated chat-based consent. We compared data from prospective participants who used the tool or had traditional consent conversations with study staff.

Results: Chat-based consent, completed on a user's schedule, was shorter than the traditional conversation. This did not lead to a significant change in affirmative consents. Within affirmative consents and declines, more prospective participants completed the chat-based process. A quiz to assess chat-based consent user understanding had a high pass rate with no reported negative experiences.

Conclusion: Our report shows that a structured script can convey important information while realizing the benefits of automation and burden shifting. Analysis suggests that it may be advantageous to use chatbots to scale this rate-limiting step in large research projects.

Keywords: chatbot; genetic counseling; genomics; informed consent; large-scale research.