Comic strips help children understand medical research: Targeting the informed consent procedure to children’s needs.

Grootens-Wiegers, P., de Vries, M. C., van Beusekom, M. M., van Dijck, L., & van den Broek, J. M. (2015). Comic strips help children understand medical research: targeting the informed consent procedure to children’s needs. Patient education and counseling, 98(4), pp. 518-524.

Children involved in medical research often fail to comprehend essential research aspects. In order to improve information provision, a participatory approach was used to develop new information material explaining essential concepts of medical research.

A draft of a comic strip was developed by a science communicator in collaboration with pediatricians. The draft was presented to children participating in a clinical trial and to two school classes. Children were consulted for further development in surveys and interviews. Subsequently, the material was revised and re-evaluated in four school classes with children of varying ages and educational levels.

In the first evaluation, children provided feedback on the storyline, wording and layout. Children thought the comic strip was ‘fun’ and ‘informative’. Understanding of 8 basic research aspects was on average 83% and all above 65%, illustrating that children understood and remembered key messages.

A comic strip was developed to support the informed consent process. Children were consulted and provided feedback. The resulting material was well understood and accepted.

Practice implications
Involving children in the development of information material can substantially contribute to the quality of the material. Children were excited to participate and to ‘be a part of science’.

Abstract reproduced with permission. This article was published in Patient Education and Counseling, 98(4) © Copyright Elsevier, EACH (the International Association for Communication in Health Care) and ACH (the Academy of Communication in Healthcare).

Extracts from the comic strip can be freely accessed via the ‘Open Access’ link below.

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