Can Seniors Use eConsent?

May 11, 2017 Sandra "SAM" Sather

A common myth about electronic informed consent (eConsent) is that senior populations will have trouble using it.  CRF Health research proves just the opposite -- in fact, seniors were more likely to adopt and use electronic over paper due to its numerous benefits. 

Sandra "SAM" Sather discusses how eConsent benefits seniors and the ways that electronic can be adapted for easier use by the elderly in this 3-minute video.


There are commonly questions about the seniors or elderly using electronic informed consent.

When it comes to how the information is presented in a lot of text, text, text and multi pages; then, put upon that some of the different vulnerable populations, or different scenarios that people might have related to the way they learn or the way that they are able to hear or see something.

On paper we’re quite limited with accessibility. So some people ask, how can eConsent be accessible? And that’s why I really kind of ask back, how is paper accessible? And it’s very easy to get someone’s signature on a form. And we think we’re done. But have we really informed them and supported them?

One thing we need to remember is, how we design a consent, we have lots of flexibility within using multimedia.

It really is something that for certain content makes things much more understandable. So definitely the navigation of an eConsent needs to be well thought out for any population. But if you know your study is going to be enrolling primarily a senior population, of course the navigation is gonna be—have bigger font. You’re gonna have ah, maybe ah, the screen will have certain colours or brighter, ah, or less information on a screen.

Now if the elderly population is cognitively impaired, we would really then want to, just like paper, incorporate a legally authorized representative. But there is this movement with seniors or anybody who is cognitively impaired to make sure they also can do as much as they can in the consenting process. So it’s, to me, presenting something multimedia gives them the opportunity to get more information and hear more information than reading 13, 15, 30 pages. And actually co-signing, we can do that through eConsent.

So yes, eConsent can be done with elderly populations.

Having the ability to do something remotely that is also interactive and presented in a way that the information can be done over time, and again not just in a text format, that they can actually interact with, ah, it’s very, very valuable. 

About the Author

Sandra "SAM" Sather

Sandra “SAM” Sather, MS, BSN, CCRA, CCRC, has over 30 years of clinical experience, a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and a Master of Science degree in Education with a Specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. She has served many roles in clinical research, including site study coordinator and manager, sponsor and CRO monitor, quality assurance auditor, risk manager, trainer, and performance management consultant. SAM has held clinical research industry certifications for over 15 years by the Association for Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). She is a current member of the ACRP Academy Board of Trustees, and Regulatory Affairs Committee (RAC). SAM is a frequent subject matter expert for GCP regulation and speaker at industry conferences. Sam has authored many competency-based curriculums for various clinical research stakeholders.

Follow on Linkedin
Previous Video
Translations and eConsent
Translations and eConsent

When designing an informed consent, it's extremely important to consider the participants using it. Specifi...

Next Video
Reducing Regulatory Risk with eConsent
Reducing Regulatory Risk with eConsent