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Barriers to research participation by racial and ethnic minority group members are multi-factorial, stem from historical social injustices and occur at participant, research team, and research process levels. The informed consent procedure is a key component of the research process and represents an opportunity to address these barriers. This manuscript describes the development of the Strengthening Translational Research in Diverse Enrollment (STRIDE) intervention, which aims to improve research participation by individuals from underrepresented groups.
We used a community-engaged approach to develop an integrated, culturally, and literacy-sensitive, multi-component intervention that addresses barriers to research participation during the informed consent process. This approach involved having Community Investigators participate in intervention development activities and using community engagement studios and other methods to get feedback from community members on intervention components.
The STRIDE intervention has three components: a simulation-based training program directed toward clinical study research assistants that emphasizes cultural competency and communication skills for assisting in the informed consent process, an electronic consent (eConsent) framework designed to improve health-related research material comprehension and relevance, and a “storytelling” intervention in which prior research participants from diverse backgrounds share their experiences delivered via video vignettes during the consent process.
The community engaged development approach resulted in a multi-component intervention that addresses known barriers to research participation and can be integrated into the consent process of research studies. Results of an ongoing study will determine its effectiveness at increasing diversity among research participants.
Implementation of genome-scale sequencing in clinical care has significant challenges: the technology is highly dimensional with many kinds of potential results, results interpretation and delivery require expertise and coordination across multiple medical specialties, clinical utility may be uncertain, and there may be broader familial or societal implications beyond the individual participant. Transdisciplinary consortia and collaborative team science are well poised to address these challenges. However, understanding the complex web of organizational, institutional, physical, environmental, technologic, and other political and societal factors that influence the effectiveness of consortia is understudied. We describe our experience working in the Clinical Sequencing Evidence-Generating Research (CSER) consortium, a multi-institutional translational genomics consortium.
A key aspect of the CSER consortium was the juxtaposition of site-specific measures with the need to identify consensus measures related to clinical utility and to create a core set of harmonized measures. During this harmonization process, we sought to minimize participant burden, accommodate project-specific choices, and use validated measures that allow data sharing.
Identifying platforms to ensure swift communication between teams and management of materials and data were essential to our harmonization efforts. Funding agencies can help consortia by clarifying key study design elements across projects during the proposal preparation phase and by providing a framework for data sharing data across participating projects.
In summary, time and resources must be devoted to developing and implementing collaborative practices as preparatory work at the beginning of project timelines to improve the effectiveness of research consortia.
The updated common rule, for human subjects research, requires that consents “begin with a ‘concise and focused’ presentation of the key information that will most likely help someone make a decision about whether to participate in a study” (Menikoff, Kaneshiro, Pritchard. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2017; 376(7): 613–615.). We utilized a community-engaged technology development approach to inform feature options within the REDCap software platform centered around collection and storage of electronic consent (eConsent) to address issues of transparency, clinical trial efficiency, and regulatory compliance for informed consent (Harris, et al. Journal of Biomedical Informatics 2009; 42(2): 377–381.). eConsent may also improve recruitment and retention in clinical research studies by addressing: (1) barriers for accessing rural populations by facilitating remote consent and (2) cultural and literacy barriers by including optional explanatory material (e.g., defining terms by hovering over them with the cursor) or the choice of displaying different videos/images based on participant’s race, ethnicity, or educational level (Phillippi, et al. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing. 2018; 47(4): 529–534.).
We developed and pilot tested our eConsent framework to provide a personalized consent experience whereby users are guided through a consent document that utilizes avatars, contextual glossary information supplements, and videos, to facilitate communication of information.
The eConsent framework includes a portfolio of eight features, reviewed by community stakeholders, and tested at two academic medical centers.
Early adoption and utilization of this eConsent framework have demonstrated acceptability. Next steps will emphasize testing efficacy of features to improve participant engagement with the consent process.
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