Background: Although increasing attention has been focused on the adequacy of the informed consent process for participation in research studies, there has been little systematic evaluation of the process, particularly when consent is obtained in the labor and delivery setting. The Mother Infant Rapid Intervention at Delivery (MIRIAD) study is an ongoing multisite study initiated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designed to evaluate the feasibility of offering 24-hour counseling and voluntary rapid HIV testing and antriretroviral therapy when indicated to women with unknown HIV status who are in labor. Methods: To address concerns about obtaining informed consent from women in labor, we have completed focus groups, conducted a pilot of the informed consent process among women in labor, developed flip-charts to enhance comprehension, and plan an ongoing evaluation of the informed consent process throughout the course of the MIRIAD study. Results: In the pilot study, approximately 70% of women were able to state in their own words the purpose and benefits of the research study. Substantially fewer women (25%) were able to state one or more risks of the study. Conclusions: We hope that the MIRIAD study will make a valuable contribution by defining best approaches for informed consent and will provide guidance when it is necessary to obtain consent from laboring women for crucial interventions.
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