Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.9, No.2, 1993. pp. 361375

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Informed Consent and Survey Response: A Summary of the Empirical Literature

This paper reviews the published literature on the consequences of informed consent procedures for the conduct of social research. It examines empirical studies of four elements of consent – information concerning the content of the interview and the purposes of the research; assurances of confidentiality or anonymity; active versus passive consent; and information concerning voluntary participation-asking in each case what the effect of the factor is on response rate, response quality, and respondent reactions. Because much of the research is more than ten years old and because issues of privacy and confidentiality appear to be more salient to respondents than ever before, a program of research into these issues would seem to be a useful undertaking.

Informed consent; social science; confidentiality; voluntary participation; passive consent.

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