PaTH’s Online Consent Procedures

As PaTH-affiliated projects enroll study participants, we are committed to ensuring people who join our studies have the information they need to decide for themselves whether or not to consent to participate – that is, to say “yes” or “no” to being part of the research.

In order for participants to truly consent, they need adequate information about the study, and they need to be able to understand this information and use it to weigh the pros and cons of participating. They must also be able to freely and voluntarily communicate their decision.

At PaTH, we want to utilize modern technology to offer people convenient options as they consider joining studies. We realize, though, that online communication can make it more challenging to know if people truly understand the information they are given and to provide help when needed.

To address this, members of the Institutional Review Board of four PaTH institutions had a series of conversations together with patient partners and researchers to develop a clear and thorough consent process that is online, standardized, and features additional consent awareness questions.

What is an Institutional Review Board?

An IRB is a committee charged by the U.S. government with protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects involved in research.

  1. Online: People who are interested in joining a PaTH study can consent online, rather than needing to meet with study staff at a less convenient location.
  2. Standardized: All seven of PaTH’s partner institutions refer to the same consent forms and procedures for consistency and smoother collaborations between researchers.
  3. Consent Awareness Questions: Along with standard required information, PaTH’s consent form also includes three simple questions that patients must answer. These questions neatly summarize subjects’ rights, what they can expect from the study, and how they can contact research staff members. In doing so, these questions provide a clear indication as to whether or not participants fully understand what they are agreeing to by consenting.
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