No News is Bad News: Characteristics of Adolescents Who Provide Neither Parental Consent Nor Refusal for Participation in School-Based Survey Research

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Design of Experiments and Sample Surveys | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Social Psychology and Interaction


Schools offer a convenient setting for research on adolescents.However, obtaining active written parental consent is difficult. In a 6th-grade smoking study, students were recruited with two consent procedures: active consent (parents must provide written consent for their children to participate) and implied consent (children may participate unless their parents provide written refusal). Of 4,427 invited students, 3,358 (76%) provided active parental consent, 420 (9%) provided active parental refusal, and 649 (15%) provided implied consent (parental nonresponse). The implied consent procedure recruited more boys, African Americans, students with poor grades, and smokers. This dual-consent procedure is useful for collecting some limited data from students who do not provide active consent or refusal.

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© 2004 Sage Publications