Inquiry into the potential value of an information pamphlet on consent to surgery to improve surgeon-patient communication.
OBJECTIVES: To find out how patients recently undergoing surgery experienced the consenting process and the response of these patients to a pamphlet on consent to surgery. To test the reaction of health professionals to the pamphlet. DESIGN: A pilot pamphlet was produced and a questionnaire was sent to patients inquiring about their consenting experience, and how the pamphlet might have helped them through the consent procedure. A pamphlet and a questionnaire were also sent to a random sample of the health professionals serving these patients. SUBJECTS: Patients and health professionals. RESULTS: 61% of patients returned the questionnaire. Knowledge about the consent procedure was shown to be limited. 49% were unaware that they had the right to insist that the surgeon could only perform the specified operation and nothing more. 83% were unaware that they could add something in writing to the consent form before signing. 28% of health professionals returned their questionnaire, most of whom thought that the pamphlet provided a useful contribution to surgeon-patient communication. CONCLUSION: Evidence shows that patients are not well informed about consenting to surgery and further information would provide much needed guidance on understanding their role in the consent procedure. The low response from the health professional study is perhaps an indication that at present this is an issue which is not seen as a priority. (+info)
Impact of therapeutic research on informed consent and the ethics of clinical trials: a medical oncology perspective.
PURPOSE: To create a more meaningful understanding of the informed consent process as it has come to be practiced and regulated in clinical trials, this discussion uses the experience gained from the conduct of therapeutic research that involves cancer patients. DESIGN: After an introduction of the ethical tenets of the consent process in clinical research that involves potentially vulnerable patients as research subjects, background that details the use of written consent documents and of the term "informed consent" is provided. Studies from the cancer setting that examine the inadequacies of written consent documents, and the outcome of the consent process itself, are reviewed. Two ethically challenging areas of cancer clinical research, the phase I trial and the randomized controlled trial, are discussed briefly as a means of highlighting many dilemmas present in clinical trials. Before concluding, areas for future research are discussed. RESULTS: Through an exclusive cancer research perspective, many current deficiencies in the informed consent process for therapeutic clinical trials can be critically examined. Also, new directions for improvements and areas of further research can be outlined and discussed objectively. The goals of such improvements and research should be prevention of further misguided or ineffective efforts to regulate the informed consent process. CONCLUSION: To ignore this rich and interesting perspective potentially contributes to continued misunderstanding and apathy toward fulfilling the regulatory and ethically obligatory requirements involved in an essential communication process between a clinician-investigator and a potentially vulnerable patient who is considering clinical trial participation. (+info)
Can the written information to research subjects be improved?--an empirical study.
OBJECTIVES: To study whether linguistic analysis and changes in information leaflets can improve readability and understanding. DESIGN: Randomised, controlled study. Two information leaflets concerned with trials of drugs for conditions/diseases which are commonly known were modified, and the original was tested against the revised version. SETTING: Denmark. PARTICIPANTS: 235 persons in the relevant age groups. MAIN MEASURES: Readability and understanding of contents. RESULTS: Both readability and understanding of contents was improved: readability with regard to both information leaflets and understanding with regard to one of the leaflets. CONCLUSION: The results show that both readability and understanding can be improved by increased attention to the linguistic features of the information. (+info)
Responses by four Local Research Ethics Committees to submitted proposals.
BACKGROUND: There is relatively little research concerning the processes whereby Local Research Ethics Committees discharge their responsibilities towards society, potential participants and investigators. OBJECTIVES: To examine the criteria used by LRECs in arriving at their decisions concerning approval of research protocols through an analysis of letters sent to investigators. DESIGN: Four LRECs each provided copies of 50 letters sent to investigators after their submitted proposals had been considered by the committees. These letters were subjected to a content analysis, in which specific comments and requests for additional information and changes in the protocols were recorded and compared. FINDINGS: Overall 24% of proposals were approved without request for changes or clarifications, but this varied by committee: one committee approved only 6% of proposals without change or clarification while the others ranged from 26% to 32%. The content analyses of responses indicated that they could be placed into four categories: (i) further information for the committee to aid in their deliberations; (ii) requests for changes to the design or justification for the design used; (iii) changes to the information sheets provided to potential participants; and (iv) changes to consent procedures. Of these, alterations to information sheets were the most common type of request. These four types of response could be seen as safeguarding the wellbeing of potential participants (the principle of non-maleficence), of promoting the scientific validity of the research (the principle of beneficence), and of enhancing the rights of potential participants (the principle of autonomy). CONCLUSIONS: The committees were consistent in the types of requests they made of investigators, which can be seen as attempts to protect participants' rights and ensure the scientific validity of studies. Without an analysis of the proposals sent to the committees, however, it is difficult to account for the variation in the requirements set by the committees before approval was given. (+info)
Monitoring clinical research: report of one hospital's experience.
Monitoring of research by research ethics boards has been recommended by various organizations that fund clinical studies and by other groups. However, little evidence has been reported on the processes, costs and outcomes of these activities, information that would be helpful to guide the boards in their current work and future policies. We report here 3 years of monitoring experience by the research ethics board of a 313-bed university-affiliated community hospital. Activities newly implemented at the beginning of the study period included the use of recruitment logs, audits of completed consent forms and interviews with research subjects. Over the study period, we monitored 33 protocols, through 188 consent form audits and interviews with 17 research subjects. In addition, 26 of 34 research investigators and collaborators responded to a survey about the monitoring. In general, the investigators were supportive of monitoring activities, but most were not willing to contribute financially. The types of monitoring we conducted are feasible and may be suitable (or could be adapted) for use in other institutions. (+info)
Randomized, controlled trial of an easy-to-read informed consent statement for clinical trial participation: a study of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group.
PURPOSE: Studies have documented that the majority of consent documents for medical diagnosis and treatment are written at a reading level above that of the majority of the U.S. population. This study hypothesized that use of an easy-to-read consent statement, when compared with a standard consent statement, will result in higher patient comprehension of the clinical treatment protocol, lower patient anxiety, higher patient satisfaction, and higher patient accrual. METHODS: A randomized controlled trial was conducted in 44 institutions that were members or affiliates of three cooperative oncology groups. Institutions were randomly assigned to administer either an easy-to-read consent statement or the standard consent statement to patients being recruited to participate in selected cancer treatment trials. Telephone interviews were conducted with a total of 207 patients to assess study outcomes. RESULTS: Patients in the intervention arm demonstrated significantly lower consent anxiety and higher satisfaction compared with patients in the control arm. Patient comprehension and state anxiety were not affected by the intervention. Accrual rates into the parent studies also did not differ significantly between the two study groups. CONCLUSION: Clinical trial informed consent statements can be modified to be easier to read without omitting critical information. Patient anxiety and satisfaction can be affected by the consent document. The generalizability of these study results is limited by the characteristics of the patient sample. Ninety percent of the sample were white women, and the mean Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine score was approximately 64, indicating a literacy level at or above the ninth grade. (+info)
Disclosure of the right of research participants to receive research results: an analysis of consent forms in the Children's Oncology Group.
BACKGROUND: The offer of return of research results to study participants has many potential benefits. The current study examined the offer of return of research results by analyzing consent forms from 2 acute lymphoblastic leukemia studies of the 235 institutional members of the Children's Oncology Group. METHODS: Institutional review board (IRB)-approved consent forms from 2 standard-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia studies (Children's Cancer Group [CCG] 1991 and Pediatric Oncology Group [POG] 9407) were analyzed independently by 2 reviewers. RESULTS: The authors received replies from 202 of the 235 institutions that were contacted (85%). One hundred eighty-one institutions had CCG 1991 (n = 96) or POG 9905 (n = 85) protocols that were approved by an IRB. Most institutions provided contact information for the principal investigator (n = 175; 97%) and a member of the institution's research services office (n = 154; 85%). Only 5 (2.8%) institutions provided an indication of a participant's right to receive a summary of research results; most of these institutions provided details on how (n = 5) or when (n = 5) this was to occur. All of these institutions (n = 162; 89.5%) provided a specific statement offering new information that might affect a participant's decision to continue to participate in a study. Only 2 institutional consent forms offered participants the option to receive research results, and only 10 (5.5%) consent forms contained an unambiguous, specific statement offering to provide new information after the study was closed. CONCLUSIONS: Few institutional review board-approved consent forms explicitly indicate the right of research recipients to receive a summary of the results of the research in which they have participated. (+info)