A Synthetic Character Application for Informed Consent

Robert C. Hubal, Curry I. Guinn, Diana C. Sparrow, Evelyn J. Studer, Ruth S. Day, and Wendy A. Visscher

We developed an application using synthetic character technology to allow users to practice administering informed consent. The target audience for this application is health communications researchers, field interviewers, and others who administer informed consent to research participants. The synthetic character was designed to simulate a potential participant/respondent in a study who has questions about the study, including many of the queries researchers typically get from research participants. These queries include questions about the sponsor, the content of the study, how respondents were selected, confidentiality, how much time the study is expected to take, benefits and risks, and who to contact for further information. The synthetic character appears on the monitor and asks the questions audibly. The users must respond to these queries correctly, using natural spoken language. The application was developed to be easily adaptable to different projects since each project will have different specific information to impart to participants during informed consent. We describe a brief test of the application and plans for further evaluation.

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