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July 2013

Can We Keep It Simple?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(7):603-605. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.152

For more than 30 years, investigators, institutional review boards (IRBs), and editorialists have been decrying the deficiencies with consent documents. Most subjects sign documents that they can neither completely read nor fully comprehend. Despite numerous studies to improve the consent document, the goal of ensuring informed participation seems more elusive than ever. Instead of simplicity and plain language, subjects face an overwhelming deluge of information written in technical and legalistic terms. Instead of brevity, consent forms remain verbose, increasing in length by approximately 1.5 pages per decade, with some well in excess of 20 pages.

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