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Kirstie Shearman Doctoral Research

Investigators: Kirstie Shearman (PhD student), Professor Heather Draper, and Dr Greg Moorlock (Supervisors)

Written information sheets are commonly used to facilitate informed consent from potential participants in clinical research. Previous research looking at informed consent has found, however, that participants often have limited knowledge about studies they are involved in and are unable to identify study aims. Evidence suggests long information sheets result in poor retention and that information is written in a way that is hard to understand. Despite this, information sheets remain complex and increasingly lengthy.

While it has been suggested that the increasing length and complexity of information sheets could be attributed to research ethics committees and principal investigators overemphasising legal details such as insurance and confidentiality policies rather than study details, it remains unclear how and why information sheets develop from a short explanation of the study into a long, technical document.

The aim of this research is to improve information provided to potential research participants through the following substudies:

  1. a documentary analysis of existing information sheets;
  2. a prospective analysis of information sheets throughout the design process, with qualitative interviews;
  3. an empirical bioethics analysis of existing literature and data collected throughout the project.

    More details are available in on Kirstie Shearman’s profile page.