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Informed consent involves providing a potential research subject with adequate information to allow for an informed decision about their voluntary participation in the research.  Informed consent is a process to facilitate a potential subject’s comprehension of this information, in a language understandable to the subject, and to allow adequate opportunity for the potential subject to ask questions and consider whether or not to participate.


  • seek and obtain consent after providing relevant information about the research and determining that each potential subject has adequate understanding of what participation entails;

  • ensure that each potential subject has been given sufficient opportunity and time to consider whether to participate;

  • refrain from deception, undue influence, coercion, or withholding relevant information; and

  • obtain from each potential subject a signed form as evidence of informed consent.

Researchers must justify any exception to these responsibilities by seeking approval of the research ethics committee.

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The purpose of informed consent is to assure that the fundamental rights and welfare of subjects are protected.  

A signed informed consent document is evidence that:

  1. the document has been provided to a prospective subject;

  2. risks and benefits have been explained to the subject, and;

  3. the subject has agreed to participate in the research.

IRB review of informed consent documents is to ensure that research protocols comply with these three elements and with applicable regulations as noted in:

US DHHS Code of Federal Regulations Title 45, Part 46, Protection of Human Subjects


  1. A statement that the study involves research, an explanation of the purposes of the research and the expected duration of the subject's participation, a description of the procedures to be followed, and identification of any procedures which are experimental;

  2. A description of any reasonably foreseeable risks or discomforts to the subject;

  3. A description of any benefits to the subject or to others which may reasonably be expected from the research;

  4. A disclosure of appropriate alternative procedures or courses of treatment, if any, that might be advantageous to the subject;

  5. A statement describing the extent, if any, to which confidentiality of records identifying the subject will be maintained;

  6. For research involving more than minimal risk, an explanation as to whether any compensation and an explanation as to whether any medical treatments are available if injury occurs and, if so, what they consist of, or where further information may be obtained;

  7. An explanation of whom to contact for answers to pertinent questions about the research and research subjects' rights, and whom to contact in the event of a research-related injury to the subject; and

  8. A statement that participation is voluntary, refusal to participate will involve no penalty or loss of benefits to which the subject is otherwise entitled, and the subject may discontinue participation at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which the subject is otherwise entitled.

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