Factors that influence parental decisions to participate in clinical research: Consenters vs nonconsenters

Alejandro Hoberman, Nader Shaikh, Sonika Bhatnagar, Mary Ann Haralam, Diana H. Kearney, D. Kathleen Colborn, Michelle L. Kienholz, Li Wang, Clareann H. Bunker, Ron Keren, Myra A. Carpenter, Saul P. Greenfield, Hans G. Pohl, Ranjiv Mathews, Marva Moxey-Mims, Russell W. Chesney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Importance: A child's health, positive perceptions of the research team and consent process, and altruistic motives play significant roles in the decision-making process for parents who consent for their child to enroll in clinical research. This study identified that nonconsenting parents were better educated, had private insurance, showed lower levels of altruism, and less understanding of study design. Objective: To determine the factors associated with parental consent for their child's participation in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Design: Cross-sectional survey conducted from July 2008 to May 2011. The survey was an ancillary study to the Randomized Intervention for Children with VesicoUreteral Reflux Study. Setting: Seven children's hospitals participating in a randomized trial evaluating management of children with vesicoureteral reflux. Participants: Parents asked to provide consent for their child's participation in the randomized trial were invited to complete an anonymous online survey about factors influencing their decision. A total of 120 of the 271 (44%) invited completed the survey; 58 of 125 (46%) who had provided consent and 62 of 144 (43%) who had declined consent completed the survey. Main Outcomes and Measures: A 60-question survey examining child, parent, and study characteristics; parental perception of the study; understanding of the design; external influences; and decision-making process. Results: Having graduated from college and private health insurance were associated with a lower likelihood of providing consent. Parents who perceived the trial as having a low degree of risk, resulting in greater benefit to their child and other children, causing little interference with standard care, or exhibiting potential for enhanced care, or who perceived the researcher as professional were significantly more likely to consent to participate. Higher levels of understanding of the randomization process, blinding, and right to withdraw were significantly positively associated with consent to participate. Conclusions and Relevance: Parents who declined consent had a relatively higher socioeconomic status, had more anxiety about their decision, and found it harder to make their decision compared with consenting parents, who had higher levels of trust and altruism, perceived the potential for enhanced care, reflected better understanding of randomization, and exhibited low decisional uncertainty. Consideration of the factors included in the conceptual model should enhance the quality of the informed consent process and improve participation in pediatric clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-566
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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