Informed consent and assent

Most countries require an ethical or scientific review of the survey, and guidelines concerning the rights of each potential respondent, both adults and children, should be followed. This is detailed in Module 1: Planning and designing a micronutrient survey.

Ethical considerations protect the dignity and rights of survey participants. Written or verbal informed consent from participants is conventional. For a young child, the caregiver may give this consent. Separate consent should be requested for the questionnaire, for specimen collection and for anthropometry, and the response to each consent process should be indicated on the questionnaire. Children over a certain age (the specific age varies by country) may be requested to provide assent in addition to the consent from their caregiver. It is important to consult with country-specific ethical review boards before starting any data collection. The informed consent form template can be found in the online tools, and must be adapted using specific guidance available in the country. Additional templates for consent and assent forms can be found at https://www.who.int/ethics/review-committee/informed_consent/en/.

During the consent process, the interviewer explains to the participant (or caregiver of the child) the purpose of the survey, the type of questions that will be asked, and the biological specimens and measurements that are to be taken. Each type of specimen (such as blood, urine or stool) and the procedure for collecting it should be carefully explained during the consent process so that the participant understands the benefits and risks of what they are agreeing to. The consent process should also explain the various tests that will be conducted and what, if any, results the participant will receive. If the participant refuses the entire survey or part of the survey (for example, the collection of biological specimens), his or her choice must be respected.

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