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A Randomized Controlled Study Comparing the National Cancer Institute’s Original and Revised Consent Form Templates

Since 1998, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has mandated that researchers use its consent form template in developing consent forms for their NCI-funded clinical trials. The template was substantially revised in 2013 to aid in the development of simpler, more concise consent forms. The NCI conducted a randomized controlled trial with cancer survivors (N = 153) to assess the revised template’s effect on individuals’ knowledge, satisfaction, clarity, and likelihood of joining a trial in the future. We found that the revised template resulted in equally high knowledge and satisfaction scores as the original template, but with fewer words and pages. The likelihood that an individual would participate in a trial diminished after he or she reviewed either the original or revised consent form, yet having knowledge about trials before reviewing the consent forms resulted in increased satisfaction. To ensure an informed decision-making process, we recommend using the revised NCI consent form template along with using educational interventions aimed at increasing the understanding potential participants have of a trial before they receive a consent form.

Key words: informed consent, consent form, NCI consent template, clinical trials, cancer patients, informed decision-making, patient education