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What do patients really want to know in an informed consent procedure? A questionnaire-based survey of patients in the Bath area, UK
  1. H El-Wakeel,
  2. G J Taylor,
  3. J J T Tate
  1. Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 H El-Wakeel
 Breast Unit, Royal United Hospital, Combe Park, Bath BA1 3NG, UK;helwakeel{at}


Background: Medical decision making is based on patient autonomy and informed consent, which is an integral part of medical ethics, risk management and clinical governance. Consent to treatment has been extensively discussed, but the viewpoint of patients is not well represented. A new consent form was introduced by the Department of Health in 2001.

Aims: To determine the information most important to patients, to facilitate evidence-based guidelines and to provide a valid and reliable consent-procedure-satisfaction questionnaire.

Methods: An anonymous quantitative survey was carried out, asking 100 patients 15 questions regarding procedures they may need to undergo, using a Visual Analogue Scale to test the importance of each question.

Results and discussion: In total there were 77 respondents and the mean age was 48.8 (SD 17.63, range 20–82) years. There were 52% women and 48% men. Major complications, such as not undergoing the procedure, future management and long-term effect on work, all scored a median of 95%. Least concerns were related to technical details of the procedure and minor complications (median 64% and 63%, respectively). All other questions were still considered important (median 79–93%). No significant differences were observed between sex, age and professional groups, but a significant difference was observed between the education groups. Qualifications of the doctor did not correlate to any other question.

Conclusions: This questionnaire is proposed as a basis for informed consent guidelines to health workers and for measures of satisfaction with the consent procedure.

  • DH, Department of Health
  • GCSE, general certificate of secondary education
  • NVQ, national vocational qualification

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  • Competing interests: None.

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