Assessing informed consent in an opioid relapse prevention study with adults under current or recent criminal justice supervision

Ashleigh A. Allen, Donna T. Chen, Richard J. Bonnie, Tomohiro M. Ko, Colleen E. Suratt, Joshua D. Lee, Peter D. Friedmann, Michael Gordon, Ryan McDonald, Sean M. Murphy, Tamara Y. Boney, Edward V. Nunes, Charles P. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concerns persist that individuals with substance use disorders who are under community criminal justice supervision experience circumstances that might compromise their provision of valid, informed consent for research participation. These concerns include the possibilities that desire to obtain access to treatment might lead individuals to ignore important information about research participation, including information about risks, or that cognitive impairment associated with substance use might interfere with attending to important information. We report results from a consent quiz (CQ) administered in a multisite randomized clinical trial of long-acting naltrexone to prevent relapse to opioid use disorder among adults under community criminal justice supervision—a treatment option difficult to access by this population of individuals. Participants were required to answer all 11 items correctly before randomization. On average, participants answered 9.8 items correctly (89%) at baseline first attempt (n = 306). At week 21 (n = 212), participants scored 87% (9.5 items correct) without review. Performance was equivalent to, or better than, published results from other populations on a basic consent quiz instrument across multiple content domains. The consent quiz is an efficient method to screen for adequate knowledge of consent information as part of the informed consent process. Clinical researchers who are concerned about these issues should consider using a consent quiz with corrected feedback to enhance the informed consent process. Overall, while primarily useful as an educational tool, employing a CQ as part of the gateway to participation in research may be particularly important as the field continues to advance and tests novel experimental treatments with significant risks and uncertain potential for benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Criminal justice supervision
  • Informed consent
  • Research ethics
  • Substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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