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Parental opinions regarding an opt-out consent process for inpatient pediatric prospective observational research in the US

Authors Fernandes DM, Roland AP, Morris MC

Received 16 November 2016

Accepted for publication 6 December 2016

Published 19 January 2017 Volume 2017:8 Pages 1—8


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor David B Price

Danielle M Fernandes,1 Allison P Roland,2 Marilyn C Morris3

1The Children’s Hospital of New York, 2Postbaccalaureate Prehealth Studies Program, NYU College of Arts and Science, 3Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

Objective: To explore parental opinions regarding opt-out consent for inpatient pediatric prospective observational research in the US.
Study design: A series of handouts describing hypothetical observational research studies with opt-out consent were reviewed by parents of hospitalized children. A verbal survey explored parental opinions about the proposed consent process.
Results: A total of 166 parents reviewed the handout and completed the survey. Only 2/166 parents (1.2%) objected to the study described and another 10 (6.0%) cited concern about the privacy of their child’s medical information. A total of 157 parents were asked “Is it okay to tell you about this kind of research using this handout?” – 116 (74%) responded positively, 19 (12%) responded negatively, and 21 (13%) made an indeterminate or neutral response. When parents were asked to recommend a specific consent approach for observational research, 86 (52%) chose an opt-in approach, 54 (33%) chose opt-out, and 25 (15%) chose “no consent needed”. There were no significant associations between parental preferences and whether the child was admitted to the intensive care unit vs. pediatric ward, and no significant difference found based on type of handout reviewed (generic vs. study-specific).
Conclusion: Few parents voiced objection to a hypothetical opt-out consent process for inpatient pediatric prospective observational research. When asked to recommend a specific consent approach, though, approximately half chose an opt-in approach. These data suggest that an opt-out consent process for observational inpatient research is likely to be acceptable to parents, but assessment of an opt-out consent process in a real-world setting is needed.

Keywords: informed consent, minimal risk, research ethics

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