Investigators are responsible to discuss the research with subjects, and to document the subjects’ consent to participate. The consent process must be adapted to the decision-making needs of the subject.  Different studies--depending on degree of therapeutic benefit and risk--require different emphasis during the consent discussion. The consent form is an important part of this process and is intended to guide the investigator and subject in the consent process.

• Federal regulations describe the required elements of consent.

  1. A statement that the study involves research, an explanation of the purposes and the expected duration of the subject’s participation, and a description of the  procedures, noting any procedures which are experimental;
  2. A description of reasonably foreseeable risks or discomforts;
  3. A description of benefits to the subject or others that may reasonably be expected;
  4. Disclosure of appropriate alternative procedures or courses of treatment;
  5. A statement of the degree to which confidentiality of records identifying the subject will be maintained;
  6. For studies involving more than minimal risk, a description of any compensation that will be provided, and of medical treatments that are available in case of injury;
  7. Who to contact for answers to questions about the research, about research subjects’ rights, and about research-related injury;
  8. A statement that participation is voluntary, that refusal to participate will involve no penalty or loss of benefits to which the subject would otherwise be entitled

• There are additional elements that must be included if appropriate.

  1. A statement that there may be unforeseeable risks to the subject (or the embryo or fetus) if the subject is or may be pregnant;
  2. Anticipated circumstances under which the subject’s participation may be terminated without the subject’s consent;
  3. Additional costs that may accrue to the subject as a result of participation;
  4. Consequences of early withdrawal from the research, and procedures for orderly termination of participation in such an event;
  5. A statement that any significant new findings that may relate to the subject’s willingness to continue will be provided;
  6. The approximate number of subjects involved in the study.

• The requirement to obtain informed consent can be altered or waived if all of the following conditions pertain:

  1. The research involves no more than minimal risk to subjects;
  2. The waiver or alteration will not adversely affect the rights and welfare of subjects;
  3. The research could not practicably be carried out without the waiver or alteration; and
  4. When appropriate, subjects will be provided with additional pertinent information after participation.


MRI template language (also gadolinium)


Consent must be discussed and documented by a qualified member of the research team. The individual must certify that he or she has completed human subjects training and has been trained, and observed discussing consent. He or she must be supervised, as needed, during the consent procedure.

Sample Consent Form Language (please adapt as necessary for specific studies):

  1. Alternatives to participation (same for all MRIs)

    This is not a treatment study. Information being collected is for research purposes only and is to learn more about __________, not about you. It is not necessary to participate in this research study to have an MRI, and the MRI done as part of this study is not the same as one done for medical purposes.

  2. Study Procedures (same for all MRIs)

    MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The MRI uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of your brain. MRI involves lying on a table that slides into a large magnet shaped like a cylinder. Before beginning the imaging procedure, we will determine that you do not have a pacemaker or any unsafe metallic implants such as an aneurysm clip or heart valve and certain tattoos, and you will be asked to remove any metal or magnetized objects (such as keys, chains, jewelry, retainers, medication patches, hairpins or credit cards). You will be asked to lie flat on your back in the MRI scanner for ______ minutes and to remain as still as possible. You will not feel anything, but you will hear a knocking, noise. This is a normal sound produced by the MRI scanner and does not indicate that anything is wrong.

  3. Study Risks

    Study risks must be described in relation to specific scanner and scanning procedures, for example, for 1.5T and 3T magnets.

    While there have been no reports of any harmful long-term effects caused by 3T magnets or magnets of even higher strength, the long-term effects of being placed in a magnet of this strength are unknown. Also, although there are no known risks associated with pregnancy, we will not scan someone who is pregnant. If you are a female in your childbearing years, you will be asked to take a pregnancy test to ensure that you are not pregnant.

    Some people have reported sensations during MRI scans with the 3T magnet, such as "tingling" or "twitching" (or, very rarely, a painful sensation), which are caused by changes in the magnetic field that can stimulate nerves in your body. With any MRI scan, on occasion, some people experience nervousness or discomfort due to the scanner's small space and the need to lie still. Except for pacemakers, some types of metallic implants, and medication patches, we are not aware of any other potentially dangerous interactions or hazards associated with the MRI scan. The MRI scanner also produces a loud noise; earplugs will be provided to reduce this discomfort. If you experience any discomfort and wish to stop the scan, you can tell the MRI technologist, and he or she will stop the scan immediately. In our experience, no one has had sensations from the MRI that did not stop when the scanning stopped.

  4. Benefits regarding MRI

    You are not expected to benefit from participation in this study.

  5. Results of your MRI

    While MRI scans are sometimes done for clinical purposes, the kind of MRI scan you will have as part of this study is for research purposes only. This means that the scans are not designed to provide clinical information that might be helpful to you or your doctor and they may not show problems that would normally be found in an MRI ordered to evaluate a specific medical problem. It is likely that the MRI scan will not have the quality of those done for clinical purposes.


    For T1 weighted images:

    However, within a month of the MRI, the scan will be read by a neuroradiologist for evidence of any obvious irregularities requiring your follow-up. You, or a physician whom you may designate, will be informed only when significant abnormalities are detected. If you wish, we can also inform you if there were no obvious findings. Given the nature of the scan, the absence of a finding does not mean that one is not present.

    For T2 and T2-FLAIR images:

    However, within a month of the MRI, your scan will be read by a neuroradiologist and information about the scan will be shared with you or a physician whom you may designate.

  6. Confidentiality (re: MRI)

    Depending on the location of scanning and interpretation, one of the following statements should be included:

    The results of your MRI scan will be maintained in an electronically secure database at NYSPI or CUMC and accessible only to the members of the research team or,

    The results of your MRI scan will be maintained on the clinical information system at Columbia University Medical Center and will be accessible to hospital clinicians.