A qualitative exploration of the informed consent process in hematopoietic cell transplantation clinical research and opportunities for improvement

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Informed consent (IC) struggles to meet the ethical principles it strives to embody in the context of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Patients often participate in multiple clinical trials making it difficult to effectively inform the participants and fulfill complex regulations. The recent Notice of Proposed Rule Making would make major changes to federal requirements, providing a timely opportunity to evaluate existing practice. Twenty health care professionals within a Midwest Academic Medical Center involved in obtaining IC in the HCT clinic or involved in patient care during or after the IC process were interviewed to understand: (1) how they approached the IC process; (2) how they described a ‘successful' IC process; and (3) opportunities for innovation. Narrative and discourse analyses of interviews indicate that providers understand IC to be a collaborative process requiring engagement and participation of providers, patients and caregivers. ‘Markers of success' were identified including cognitive, affective and procedural markers focusing on patient understanding and comfort with the decision to participate. Opportunities for innovating the process included use of decision aids and tablet-based technology, and better use of patient portals. Our findings suggest specific interventions for the IC process that could support the process of consent for providers, patients and caregivers.

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