Consumer perspectives on simplified, layered consent for a low risk, but complex pragmatic trial

Tanya J. Symons, Nicola Straiton, Rosie Gagnon, Roberta Littleford, Anita J. Campbell, Asha C. Bowen, Adam G. Stewart, Steven Y.C. Tong, Joshua S. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: For decades, the research community has called for participant information sheets/consent forms (PICFs) to be improved. Recommendations include simplifying content, reducing length, presenting information in layers and using multimedia. However, there are relatively few studies that have evaluated health consumers’ (patients/carers) perspectives on the type and organisation of information, and the level of detail to be included in a PICF to optimise an informed decision to enter a trial. We aimed to elicit consumers’ views on a layered approach to consent that provides the key information for decision-making in a short PICF (layer 1) with additional optional information that is accessed separately (layer 2). We also elicited consumers’ views on the optimal content and layout of the layered consent materials for a large and complex Bayesian adaptive platform trial (the SNAP trial). Methods: We conducted a qualitative multicentre study (4 focus groups and 2 semi-structured interviews) involving adolescent and adult survivors of Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infection (22) and their carers (2). Interview transcripts were examined using inductive thematic analysis. Results: Consumers supported a layered approach to consent. The primary theme that emerged was the value of agency; the ability to exert some control over the amount of information read before the consent form is signed. Three other themes emerged; the need to prioritise participants’ information needs; the importance of health literacy; the importance of information about a trial’s benefits (over its risks) for decision-making and the interplay between the two. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that consumers may challenge the one-size-fits-all approach currently applied to the development of PICFs in countries like Australia. Consumers supported a layered approach to consent that offers choice in the amount of information to be read before deciding whether to enter a trial. A 3-page PICF was considered sufficient for decision-making for the SNAP trial, provided that further information was available and accessible.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1055
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Consumer perspectives on simplified, layered consent for a low risk, but complex pragmatic trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this