Guidelines: Exceptions to written consent
There are some exceptions to the requirement for written consent.
For example, for some questionnaires the return of the questionnaire can be taken as indication of voluntary consent to participate. This should be clearly stated on the questionnaire, with a statement similar to the following:
"We would be grateful if you would agree to take part in our study by answering all questions and returning the questionnaire to…".
Participant Information Statement and Consent Form not appropriate
In some cases it is not appropriate to provide a written Participant Information Statement and Consent Form.
This may be the case for participants who are illiterate or for participants from certain oral cultures.
In circumstances such as these, a version of the Participant Information Statement and Consent Form should be read to participants.
Researchers should include a proposed statement indicating how they would begin such a dialogue. In these cases, consent may be obtained orally and audio-recorded. It is of course imperative that participants understand exactly what is expected of them and to what they are consenting.
In the case where telephone interviews may occur, participants should receive a Participant Information Statement inviting them to participate.
They may be instructed to contact researchers to arrange a time for a telephone interview, or the Participant Information Statement may inform them that researchers will call to inquire whether or not they would be interested in participating.
In regards to consent, participants may either return the signed Participant Consent Form to researchers before the interview occurs or their consent may be obtained orally at the start of the telephone interview.
In the case where it is obtained orally, researchers are required to submit a draft of the dialogue which will be read to participants to seek their consent. There are strict State and Federal Laws concerning the recording of telephone conversations: