Assessing Participant Understanding
It is your responsibility as a researcher to ensure that
prospective participants understand the extent of their role in your
research. Read through the consent document with them and discuss
participation prior to their involvement in your research. During these
discussions you should answer questions and ask questions, too. Use
open-ended and nondirective questions. Open-ended questions often begin
with words such as "what," "where," "how
often," "when," and "please describe."
A few of the
questions you may want to ask are:
- Describe in your own words the purpose of the study.
- What more would you like to know?
- Would you please explain to me what you think we're going to ask you to do?
- What are your concerns?
However, the idea is not to quiz them. Foster an open exchange of
information and encourage them to ask questions. Remind them to continue
to ask questions as they occur during their participation. Their
willingness to be proactive and ask questions does not release you from
the responsibility to provide the necessary information on which their
decision should be made.