Clinical research is predicated ethically on the authentic voluntarism of individuals who choose to enroll in human studies. Existing literature has focused on aspects of informed consent for clinical research other than voluntarism. The objective of this study was to compare the perspectives of clinical research participants who are in good health and who are ill regarding voluntarism-related aspects of informed consent and to assess situational influences that enable voluntarism in the process of obtaining clinical research consent. A 23-item written survey, the Informed Consent Questionnaire (ICQ), was administered in a "piggyback" semi-structured interview study of ill and healthy volunteers enrolled in IRB-approved clinical research studies. A total of 150 (60 mentally ill, 43 physically ill, and 47 healthy) clinical research participants participated. Respondents expressed positive views of their experiences with the informed consent processes for their respective clinical research protocols and respondents strongly endorsed items related to voluntarism irrespective of their illness type (range of means?=?[3.9, 4.8]). Ill participants more highly endorsed items relating to informed consent conditions (mentally ill vs healthy: 0.54 on a 5-point scale, P value?=?0.01) (physically ill vs. healthy: 0.47 on a 5-point scale, P value?=?0.01). The favorable views of clinical research participants regarding their experience of giving informed consent to enroll in a study were not surprising. Contrary to our a priori hypothesis, healthy individuals did not feel as positively as their ill counterparts.
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