Blog Squad: What We Hope to Gain From AER15

Courtney Zwieg: Next Generation IRB MeetingsCourtney Zwieg: Our institution is currently undergoing a myriad of changes. For one, we are streamlining our standard operating procedures, which seem to evolve with every change in technology. While we formerly received and sent everything out in paper format, we now accept most things via electronic file; however, we still receive paper copies of submission forms. Furthermore, we recently started to utilize electronic signatures by the chairs of our IRBs. While at the AER Conference, I hope to gather information so that our office is clear and set with our own procedures prior to adding those of another institution. Another issue we’re facing is the creation and implementation of an electronic IRB management system. This is actually an issue that I look forward to discussing with the other attendees at AER. Despite having an idea of the big pieces needed, we have begun to notice that sometimes we overlook small pieces that connect everything together.

Dahron JohnsonDahron Johnson: As AER approaches, I hope to learn along two fronts. First, I seek to renew knowledge in areas where issues and boundaries evolve daily. For example, I’ll attend the pre-conference session on current considerations in biobanking; each time I attend helps reinforce material I’ve been exposed to before. Second, I’ll continue my efforts to understand what an ethic of mutual engagement among the various parties in the research process involves. As William James once grandly said about over-beliefs—“the whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousness is only one out many worlds of consciousness that exist, and that those other worlds must contain experiences for our life also.”—seems to me to apply pretty well (albeit on a smaller scale and different register) to the intent behind the research process.

Heady stuff, true—but still, not bad for a few days in Boston!

PRIM&R Blog Squad: Mina BuschMina Busch: At the 2014 AER Conference, one of the most interesting sessions I attended was “Using Empirical Evidence to Reduce Consent Form Length” taught by Amy Corneli, PhD, MPH, and Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, MA. They shared preliminary data about their study based on interviews. They talked to people about what they thought must be included on the consent form and what could be removed. It was very engaging. They promised to be back to share more study findings. I have been looking forward to this for, well, a year. A long year…I don’t wait well!

As one who regularly teaches and advises others on consent form development and the consent process, I am always interested to hear about improvements in consent forms and the process as a whole. We’ve undertaken some initiatives at my institution (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center) to improve the readability of our consent forms, but this has made them somewhat longer. So, if someone can share tangible strategies where shortening consent forms didn’t lead to reduced comprehension, I’m interested…this is definitely something I can use!

Amy Corneli will be back at the 2015 AER Conference, presenting this talk as session D6 (Saturday at 2:00 PM). I’ll be there…. If you’re looking to learn about reducing consent form length, come join me!

Learn more about our AER15 Blog Squad members here.