This process is often used in minimal risk research involving the administration of online/electronic or mailed surveys, telephone interviews, or when anonymous sensitive information is collected and you do not want any written documentation that links the participants to the research study.
In cases in which the documentation requirement is waived, the IRB may require the investigator to provide participants with a written statement regarding the research.
Per federal regulations, the IRB may waive the requirement for the researcher to obtain a signed consent form (waiving the documentation) for some or all of the participants if it finds:
1) That the only record linking the participant and the research would be the consent document AND the principal risk would be potential harm resulting from breach of confidentiality. Each participant will be asked whether or not he or she wants documentation linking him or her with the research. The participant's wishes will govern.
2) That the research presents no more than minimal risk of harm to participants (i.e., the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests) and involves no procedures for which written consent is normally required outside of the research context.
If you plan to use or share protected health information (PHI) when conducting your research, you must conduct your study in accordance with the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
This means that when applying for a waiver of documentation of consent, you will also have to request a waiver or alteration of HIPAA Authorization. The IRB can grant the waiver of alteration if it determines the following criteria are met: