Alternative consent methods used in the multinational, pragmatic, randomised clinical trial SafeBoosC-III

Maria Linander Vestager*, Mathias Lühr Hansen, Gorm Greisen, SafeBoosC-III Trial Group

*Corresponding author for this work


BACKGROUND: The process of obtaining prior informed consent for experimental treatment does not fit well into the clinical reality of acute and intensive care. The therapeutic window of interventions is often short, which may reduce the validity of the consent and the rate of enrolled participants, to delay trial completion and reduce the external validity of the results. Deferred consent and 'opt-out' are alternative consent methods. The SafeBoosC-III trial was a randomised clinical trial investigating the benefits and harms of cerebral oximetry monitoring in extremely preterm infants during the first 3 days after birth, starting within the first 6 h after birth. Prior, deferred and opt-out consent were all allowed by protocol. This study aimed to evaluate the use of different consent methods in the SafeBoosC-III trial, Furthermore, we aimed to describe and analyse concerns or complaints that arose during the first 6 months of trial conduct.

METHODS: All 70 principal investigators were invited to join this descriptive ancillary study. Each principal investigator received a questionnaire on the use of consent methods in their centre during the SafeBoosC-III trial, including the possibility to describe any concerns related to the consent methods used during the first 6 months of the trial, as raised by the parents or the clinical staff.

RESULTS: Data from 61 centres were available. In 43 centres, only prior informed consent was used: in seven, only deferred consent. No centres used the opt-out method only, but five centres used prior and deferred, five used prior, deferred and opt-out (all possibilities) and one used both deferred and opt-out. Six centres applied to use the opt-out method by their local research ethics committee but were denied using it. One centre applied to use deferred consent but was denied. There were only 23 registered concerns during the execution of the trial.

CONCLUSIONS: Consent by opt-out was allowed by the protocol in this multinational trial but only a few investigators opted for it and some research ethics boards did not accept its use. It is likely to need promotion by the clinical research community to unfold its potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article number236
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)236
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2024


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