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Attention: New applications for IRB review on or after January 21, 2019 must meet the requirements of the revised Common Rule.
Rooted in the principle of respect for persons, informed consent is not just a form but a process that begins with subject recruitment, progresses to the consent discussion and review of the consent form, and continues through the duration of a subject's participation in the study and beyond. During a study, all communication (including both oral and written) with research participants is part of the process of informed consent.
The IRB must approve not only all written documents shared with research participants, but also the plans for approach, recruitment, and other interactions during the study. Unless the IRB grants a waiver of informed consent, investigators are responsible for obtaining legally effective informed consent prospectively from each research participant, or participant's legally authorized representative, as required by Fred Hutch IRB and the regulations for the protection of human research subjects. Refer to 45 CFR 46.116 and 46.117 for federally funded research, and 21 CFR 50 Subpart B for FDA-regulated research.
Obtaining informed consent is a basic ethical obligation for researchers. The process of consent should ensure that potential subjects are provided with information about the research project that is understandable and permits the subject to make an informed and voluntary decision about whether or not to participate. The amount of information and the manner of presentation is generally related to the complexity and risk involved in the research study. While the initial process is prospective and takes place prior to any research activity, consent should also be an ongoing educational interaction between the investigator and the research subject that continues throughout the study and even beyond, as pertinent information comes to light that should be shared with the former participant.
The consent process is not an exercise in persuasion. If an investigator has a relationship with potential subjects (physician-patient, instructor-student, employer-employee), care should be taken to avoid recruitment methods that may be coercive due to the special relationship between parties.
Consent is also a legal concept. Only legally competent adults can give legally effective informed consent. Legal competency and capacity to consent is determined by the law of the state in which the research is conducted. For research studies approved by the Fred Hutch IRB the presiding law is the law of the jurisdiction in which the research is conducted. That law will also control when determining who is capable of acting as the legal representative for a research participant. For assistance in determining who may act as the "legally authorized representative" or "LAR" for a prospective research participant, refer to the IRB Policy 2.25 on the Identification and Use of Legally Authorized Representatives or contact the Institutional Review Office or General Counsel.
Children and those individuals who are not competent to provide consent should be given the opportunity to assent to participate in the research project. Assent is a knowledgeable agreement to participate in the project. Adequate provisions should be made for soliciting the independent, non-coerced assent from children or cognitively impaired persons who are capable of a knowledgeable agreement. In general, the IRB recommends that children age seven and older, and most cognitively impaired adults, be given the opportunity to assent.
In cases where assent is obtained from a cognitively impaired subject, permission must also be obtained from a legally authorized representative. In studies involving children, the parent(s) or legal guardian must provide consent.
If the person from whom assent is sought refuses to participate in the research, the investigator should respect the decision of the child or cognitively impaired adult, even when the parent/guardian or legally authorized representative gives permission. The IRB may make an exception to affirmative assent in studies of children with life-threatening illnesses who are eligible for research treatment protocols. Alternatively, if the person from whom assent is sought agrees to participate, the person may not be enrolled if the parent/guardian or legally authorized representative does not give permission. In cases where questions arise as to who may act as a legally authorized representative, it is recommended that you seek assistance from the Fred Hutch General Counsel.
The assent form is used when the investigator recruits subjects who, by age or circumstance, are not able to give legally effective informed consent. When legally effective informed consent cannot be obtained, the investigator should obtain the assent of the child or cognitively impaired adult subject. This form documents the child's or cognitively impaired adult subject's knowledgeable agreement, or assent, to participate in a research project. For studies involving children, the IRB recommends that an assent form be used with children who are in the 7-13 age range, but it may also be used when teenagers are being recruited to enhance their comprehension if the study involves complicated procedures.
The below elements must generally be included in each consent form. Basic elements must always be included unless the IRB grants a waiver or alteration of informed consent. Additional elements should be included unless they are not applicable. Other requirements apply, depending on the study, to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects and to meet institutional standards.
In seeking informed consent, the following information shall be provided to each subject:
When appropriate, one or more of the following elements of information shall also be provided to each subject:
Required by 21 CFR 50.25(c) when seeking informed consent for applicable clinical trials, as defined in 42 U.S.C. 282(j)(1)(A). According to NIH policy, if the clinical trial is NIH-funded, the consent document must also include a statement that information will be posted to www.ClinicalTrials.gov.
The following statement shall be provided to each clinical trial subject in informed consent documents and processes. This will notify the clinical trial subject that clinical trial information has been or will be submitted for inclusion in the clinical trial registry databank under paragraph (j) of section 402 of the Public Health Service Act. The statement is:
A description of this clinical trial will be available on http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov, as required by U.S. Law. This Web site will not include information that can identify you. At most, the Web site will include a summary of the results. You can search this Web site at any time.
The following apply in addition to the other requirements listed on this page to HHS-regulated research approved on or after January 21, 2019, to HHS-regulated studies that were previously approved under the pre-2018 requirements that are now undergoing de novo review, and to new research approved on or after January 21, 2019 that is both FDA- and HHS-regulated.
Note: Fred Hutch IRB does not review or allow Broad Consent.
9. One of the following statements about any research that involves the collection of identifiable private information or identifiable biospecimens:
7. A statement that the participant’s biospecimens (even if identifiers are removed) may be used for commercial profit and whether the participant will or will not share in this commercial profit;
8. A statement regarding whether clinically relevant research results, including individual research results, will be disclosed to participants, and if so, under what conditions; and
9. For research involving biospecimens, whether the research will (if known) or might include whole genome sequencing (i.e., sequencing of a human germline or somatic specimen with the intent to generate the genome or exome sequence of that specimen).
The purpose of a consent form is to provide subjects with a written source of information for future reference and to document the fact that the initial process of informed consent occurred prior to the subject's participation. The form generally serves as a basis for the initial presentation of the study to the potential subject. With few exceptions, informed consent is documented by using the written consent document approved by the IRB and signed and dated by the subject or the subject's legally authorized representative at the time of consent. A copy of the consent form should be given to the subject. Unless the investigator has been granted a waiver of documentation of consent, the subject's signature on a consent form is required prior to beginning any study procedures.
When using an assent form, the child or cognitively impaired adult should sign the assent form, to indicate knowledgeable agreement (assent) to participate. In addition, the parent/guardian or legally authorized representative should sign the full consent form to document his/her permission for the child or cognitively impaired adult to participate.
A signature line for a PI or researcher is required only for research that needs to comply with International Conference on Harmonization guidelines. Pre-signed consent forms should never be used.
Use the templates below to develop your consent forms. If you need assistance with development, or if you have questions regarding use of the model consent form, contact your IRB analyst. The IRO can provide sample consent documents that were previously IRB-approved and serve as good examples for specific types of research activities.
Consent for Clinical Research
For clinical research studies; contains sample language.
Consent for Minimal/Low Risk Studies
For studies that involve minimal or low risk to participants.
Model Consent: Minimal Risk (Consent R)
For use when taking samples involves no more than minimal risk to research participants.
Public Health Sciences Consent for Research
For use for PHS research studies that are more than minimal-risk; contains sample language.
Public Health Sciences Consent for Minimal Risk Studies
For use for PHS minimal-risk research studies.
Assent For for Participants Aged 7-13
For use when pediatric subjects will participate in research; sample language is for giving extra blood for research.
Short-Form Consent to Participate in a Research Study
For use when subjects cannot read English and the study did not expect to enroll participants that speak that language. The short form consent is available in 36 languages, from Albanian to Vietnamese.
UW Model Consent Forms
For use in Cancer Consortium research studies.