To determine subjects' perception of the purpose of informed consent, 113 subjects were recruited from a dosecontrolled clinical trial of didanosine (ddI). Subjects were surveyed regarding how they made decisions regarding their medical care in general, about how they obtained information about this trial in particular, and several aspects of the informed consent procedure. Subjects were then randomly allocated to receive information about the trial by either a written only format or a written and verbal format 1 week before commencement of the trial. An eight-item instrument assessed knowledge of ddI prior to and subsequent to receiving information. Most subjects obtained information about HIV-related issues from their specialist (70%) or general (51%) medical practitioner. A large proportion of subjects (88%) reported that they believed their specialist medical practitioner always acted in their best interest. The majority of subjects (79%) believed that subjects should be allowed the choice between participating in the clinical trial and receiving the drug outside the trial mechanism. Of the subjects, 96% believed that informed consent was necessary in clinical trials; however, their opinions of the purpose of informed consent varied widely. Although they signed the informed consent, 44% of the subjects stated that they did not understand 'all' of the information that was provided. We found that the provision of information by written mode alone, or written and verbal modes were both associated with significant increases in knowledge levels and that there was a significant interaction in the degree of change between the two methods, with the written plus verbal method showing the most improvement over time. There was an interaction between degree of improvement in knowledge of didanosine in subjects who received written information versus those who received written and verbal knowledge and time (pre- versus post-consent) and a significant main effect for time. All subjects were relatively well-informed about the drug and stated that specialist and general medical practitioners were their major source of knowledge for all aspects of their HIV health care.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research is supported by the Australian National Council on AIDS through the Commonwealth AIDS Research Grants Committee. We would like to thank the subjects for their generous participation and Nicola Dunbar for assistance in data analysis.
- Clinical trial
- HIV disease
- Informed consent