Development and evaluation of a web-based assent for adolescents considering an HIV vaccine trial

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine; Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences



Document Type



Infectious Disease | Pediatrics


HIV vaccine trials with minors will likely require parental permission and informed assent from adolescents. For this to be a valid process, the information needs to be presented in a manner that promotes adolescent comprehension. Previous studies suggest that adolescent comprehension of assent is often insufficient. We developed an interactive web-based assent that included interspersed quiz questions for a hypothetical HIV vaccine trial. Efficacy of the web-based assent was compared to a standard paper assent with and without interspersed questions. One hundred twenty teen participants, ages 15-17 years, from five community organizations were randomized to self-administered web-based assent (n=60) or investigator-administered paper assent with (n=29) or without (n=31) interspersed quiz questions. After reviewing the assent, participants completed a 27-item comprehension test. Comprehension scores were compared between groups. The mean number of correctly answered questions were 21.2 for the full paper group and 21.1 for the web-based group (t118=-0.08, p=0.94). Scores were 20.2 for the paper without interspersed questions sub-group and 22.1 for the paper with interspersed questions sub-group (t58=1.96, p=0.055). Participants in the web-based group performed as well on the comprehension test as those in the paper group, and those in the paper with questions sub-group performed better than those in the paper without questions sub-group, suggesting that interspersed quiz questions may improve understanding of a traditional paper assent. The minimal investigator time and standardized administration of the web-based assent as well as ability to tailor the assent discussion to topics identified by incorrect comprehension test responses are advantages worthy of further investigation.

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Citation: AIDS Care. 2015;27(8):1005-13. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2015.1024096. Epub 2015 Mar 24. Link to article on publisher's site

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