Quality of informed consent for invasive procedures in central Saudi Arabia
Mostafa A Abolfotouh, Abdallah A Adlan
King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Background: Informed consent is considered the most important step in clinical interventions. The aims of this study were (1) to assess the quality of informed consent for invasive procedures with regard to consent process and information given about risks and alternative treatments, and (2) to determine patients' attitude toward informed consent at King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of 162 adult patients in different wards after undergoing surgery or invasive procedures within 1–2 days of signing the informed consent, using a previously validated interview questionnaire. Data on patients' characteristics, type of invasive procedure, and some informed consent-related issues were collected. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to identify the predictors of the percentage mean score of quality of informed consent, and significance was considered at P ≤ 0.05.
Results: The quality of informed consent was generally poor (% mean score = 50.98 ± 17.49). About two-thirds of patients were told during the informed consent process that they have to sign merely as routine, 48% thought that if they refused the treatment plan they would lose the interest of the treating physician to help them, 42% thought that by saying no they would lose the good relationship with their physician, and 42.6% were not interested in having a copy of the informed consent document. Significantly higher quality was predicted when the physicians were the ones who explained the informed consent (t = 4.15, P < 0.001) and when informed consent was explained to younger patients (t = 2.754, P = 0.007). The overall attitude of the patients toward the process of informed consent was satisfactory (% mean score = 76.31 ± 7.63).
Conclusion: The results suggest either that patients are not aware of their rights or that physician paternalism is practiced in Saudi Arabia. Cultural barriers should not be an argument to diminish the role of informed consent. Further studies should focus on how the value of autonomy can be appreciated in the Saudi culture.
Keywords: informed consent, quality, invasive procedure, Saudi Arabia
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