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Qualtrics Tutorials: Informed Consent

Obtain Informed Consent at the beginning of your Qualtrics survey using skip logic or branch logic to ensure that only consenting participants take the survey.

Informed Consent Statements in Qualtrics

If you are doing survey research with human subjects, you will need to obtain explicit consent from your participants before you can administer the survey. This is true whether the survey is electronic or on paper.

In Qualtrics, the general survey flow for creating an informed consent statement is:

  1. Show the user the informed consent statement.
  2. Confirm and record whether the user consents or does not consent to the survey.
    1. If the user consents, continue to the first page of survey questions.
    2. If the user does not consent, take them to the end of the survey.

There are several ways this survey logic can be implemented in Qualtrics, depending on the survey structure and the researcher's needs. Here, we will show how to set up this survey flow using skip logic or branch logic.

  • Skip logic specifies one simple "If this, then skip to" direction. It is best used if the survey structure is simple. All users will see the same end-of-survey message or outcome.
  • Branch logic specifies "If this, then direct to". It is best used if the survey structure is complex (e.g. there are branches within the survey itself), or if the researcher wants to have different end-of-survey outcomes for those who consent and for those who do not consent.
    • For example, a researcher may want users who do not consent to receive the end-of-survey message "Thank you for your interest in this survey", and those who do consent to receive the end-of-survey message "Thank you for completing this survey."

Method 1 - Skip Logic

This method uses Skip Logic to direct users to the end of the survey if they disagree with the informed consent question. This method will work for researchers who will only have one ending outcome at the end of their survey. That is, users who consent to the survey will have the same end-of-survey outcome as users who do not consent to the survey.

  1. Create an 'Informed Consent' block and a 'Survey Questions' block. (If your survey structure is such that you need multiple survey question blocks, that is fine, so long as your informed consent statement is in its own separate block.)

    Snapshot of block setup in Qualtrics. There are separate blocks called Informed Consent, Demographics, Experimental Design, and Email Notification.

  2. In the Informed Consent block, create a new single-answer multiple choice question.
  3. Copy and paste the text of your informed consent statement into the Descriptive Text question.
  4. Change the text of the multiple choice question to ask if the participant consents to participate in the research.
  5. While the informed consent question is selected, set the following options in the question options menu on the right:
    1. Change the number of choices to two. Set the choice text to “I agree” and “I disagree”.
    2. Under Validation Options, check off the box next to Force Response.
  6. Click Add Skip Logic.
  7. In the Skip Logic box, change the settings to “If I disagree Is Selected Then Skip To End of Survey”.

    When setting up Skip Logic on a question, the selected choice will be highlighted. Here, I Disagree is highlighted.

    Click Done when finished.

  8. The informed consent statement is now complete. Make sure to test the logic in Preview Mode to verify that it is working properly.

Method 2 - Branch Logic

This procedure uses branch logic to direct users who do not consent to the end of the survey, while sending users who do consent to the survey to the first page of questions. This method has the benefit of allowing for different end-of-survey outcomes depending on whether or not the user consented to the survey.

  1. Create an 'Informed Consent' block and a 'Survey Questions' block. (If your survey structure is such that you need multiple survey question blocks, that is fine, so long as you have a separate block for your informed consent statement.)
  2. In the 'Informed Consent' block, create a new single-answer multiple choice question. This will be your informed consent collection question. Copy and paste your informed consent statement, in its entirety, into the question text. Turn on Forced Response validation for this question. (Forced Response validation is necessary for this question so that you have a record of the respondents' affirmative consent. Failure to use Forced Response here will allow the respondent to complete the survey without explicitly giving their consent.)
  3. Go to Survey Flow. At the outermost level, click Add a New Element. Select Branch, then click Add a Condition.

    Then Branch If: If Question Do you consent to the research project? I disagree is Selected

    1. From the Select Question dropdown box, select the informed consent question you created in step 2.
    2. From the Select Choice dropdown box, select your No (do not consent) answer.
    3. Click OK.
  4. Underneath the Then Branch If element, click Add a New Element. Select End of Survey.

    Click Customize to set the desired endings for the respondents who choose not to consent to the survey.
  5. After adding the End of Survey element, your Branch Logic screen should look similar to this:

    That is, your first block must be the informed consent block, and your "Then branch if" statement must come directly after it. The End of Survey element should be nested under the "Then branch if" statement; if it is not, the logic will not be executed correctly. The rest of your survey's blocks or contents will come after the "Then branch If" element.
  6. If you are satisfied with your changes, click Save Flow.

The informed consent statement is now complete. Make sure to test the logic in Preview Survey to verify that it is working properly.

Other Tips

Doing this will ensure that you have explicit confirmation that your respondents have consented to the survey. It also prevents any complications caused by someone submitting the survey without answering the consent question.

  1. Make sure you test out your survey's informed consent question manually in Preview Mode. If the logic is working correctly, then:

    • Users who select "I disagree" and click "Next" are immediately sent to the end of the survey.
    • Users who select "I agree" and click "Next" can complete the rest of the survey normally.
    • Users who click "Next" without selecting either "I agree" or "I disagree" are not permitted to continue the survey.
  2. If you've used the Branch Logic approach and "I disagree" is not correctly sending users to the end of the survey, make sure that the "If" branch is ordered so that it comes right after your Informed Consent block, but before any subsequent blocks of survey questions.
  3. Be sure that your respondents' answers are being recorded anonymously. This can be set through the Survey Options window by checking the Anonymize Responses box, or within the Survey Flow in Customize End of Survey. This is especially important if you are using panel distribution for your survey.
  4. The text of your informed consent statement MUST be approved by the IRB prior to distributing your survey.