Community consultation for Exception from Informed Consent (EFIC) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
Aim: Describe community consultation and surrogate consent rates for two Exception From Informed Consent (EFIC) trials for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OOHCA) - before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: The PEARL study (2016-2018) randomized OOHCA patients without ST-elevation to early cardiac catheterization or not. Community consultation included flyers, radio announcements, newspaper advertisements, mailings, and in-person surveys at basketball games and ED waiting rooms. The PROTECT trial (2021-present) randomizes OOHCA survivors to prophylactic ceftriaxone or placebo; the community consultation plan during the pandemic included city council presentations, social media posts, outpatient flyers, but no in-person encounters. Demographics for PROTECT community consultation were compared to PEARL and INTCAR registry data, with p-value <0.05 considered significant. Results: PEARL surveyed 1,362 adults, including 64% ≥60 years old, 96% high school graduates or beyond; research acceptance rate was 92% for the community and 76% for personal level. PROTECT initially obtained 221 surveys from electronic media - including fewer males (28% vs 72%,p<0.001) and those >60 years old (14% vs 53%;p<0.001) compared to INTCAR. These differences prompted a revised community consultation plan, targeting 79 adult in-patients with cardiac disease which better matched PEARL and INTCAR data: the majority were ≥60 years old (66%) and male (54%). Both PEARL and PROTECT enrolled more patients using surrogate consent vs EFIC (57%, 61%), including 71% as remote electronic consents during PROTECT. Conclusions: Community consultation for EFIC studies changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in different demographic patterns. We describe effective adaptations to community consultation and surrogate consent during the pandemic.