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

Diane R. Blake, Celeste A. Lemay, Louise S. Maranda, J. Dennis Fortenberry, Margaret H. Kearney, Kathleen M. Mazor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1005-1013
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2015


  • HIV infection and AIDS
  • adolescence
  • clinical trials
  • computer-assisted instruction
  • informed consent
  • research ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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