City Research Online

Electronic consenting for conducting research remotely: A review of current practice and key recommendations for using e-consenting

Skelton, E., Drey, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-0752-9049, Rutherford, M. , Ayers, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-6153-2460 & Malamateniou, C. (2020). Electronic consenting for conducting research remotely: A review of current practice and key recommendations for using e-consenting. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 143, article number 104271. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2020.104271


BACKGROUND: Electronic approaches are becoming more widely used to obtain informed consent for research participation. Electronic consent (e-consent) provides an accessible and versatile approach to the consenting process, which can be enhanced with audio-visual and interactive features to improve participant engagement and comprehension of study procedures. Best practice guidance underpinned by ethical principles is required to ensure effective implementation of e-consent for use in research.

AIM: To identify the key considerations for successful and ethical implementation of e-consent in the recruitment of participants to research projects which are conducted remotely.

METHODS: Electronic database searches of CINAHL, Medline, Embase, DARE, HTA, PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Scopus, Web of Science, NHS Evidence, and hand-searches of reference lists were performed. Primary research studies of adult (≥ 18 years old) research participants using e-consent, published in English language, peer-reviewed journals between 2010-2020 were eligible for inclusion.

RESULTS: Of the initial 665 identified studies, 18 met the inclusion criteria: 6 cohort studies, 5 qualitative studies, 4 randomised control trials, 2 mixed-methods studies and one case-control study. Critical appraisal of included studies using Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) tools suggested a low to moderate risk of bias in most studies (n = 15). Key practice recommendations for researchers using e-consent were identified around five primary themes: 1) accessibility and user-friendliness of e-consent, 2) user engagement and comprehension, 3) customisability to participant preferences and demographics, 4) data security and 5) impact on research teams.

CONCLUSION: E-consenting approaches are generally well received by participants, with most studies reporting user-friendly interfaces and sufficient participant comprehension of consenting documentation.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: E-consent may facilitate remotely-conducted research by offering a feasible and robust alternative to face-to-face consenting approaches, however paper-based options should still be offered, based on participant preference. Customising e-consenting platforms may improve accessibility for individuals with specific needs, and increase engagement with study information. Research teams must offer prospective participants opportunities to discuss study information in real-time.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Electronic consenting, Informed consent, Research ethics, User experience
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Skelton et al 2020_text copy.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login