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J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Aug;21(8):867-73.

Use of a modified informed consent process among vulnerable patients: a descriptive study.

Author information

  • 1Division of Geriatrics, San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA. rsucsf@yahoo.com

Erratum in

  • J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Sep;21(9):1009.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about patient characteristics associated with comprehension of consent information, and whether modifications to the consent process can promote understanding.

OBJECTIVE:

To describe a modified research consent process, and determine whether literacy and demographic characteristics are associated with understanding consent information.

DESIGN:

Descriptive study of a modified consent process: consent form (written at a sixth-grade level) read to participants, combined with 7 comprehension questions and targeted education, repeated until comprehension achieved (teach-to-goal).

PARTICIPANTS:

Two hundred and four ethnically diverse subjects, aged > or = 50, consenting for a trial to improve the forms used for advance directives.

MEASUREMENTS:

Number of passes through the consent process required to achieve complete comprehension. Literacy assessed in English and Spanish with the Short Form Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (scores 0 to 36).

RESULTS:

Participants had a mean age of 61 years and 40% had limited literacy (s-TOHFLA<23). Only 28% of subjects answered all comprehension questions correctly on the first pass. After adjustment, lower literacy (P=.04) and being black (P=.03) were associated with requiring more passes through the consent process. Not speaking English as a primary language was associated with requiring more passes through the consent process in bivariate analyses (P<.01), but not in multivariable analyses (P>.05). After the second pass, most subjects (80%) answered all questions correctly. With a teach-to-goal strategy, 98% of participants who engaged in the consent process achieved complete comprehension.

CONCLUSIONS:

Lower literacy and minority status are important determinants of understanding consent information. Using a modified consent process, little additional education was required to achieve complete comprehension, regardless of literacy or language barriers.

Comment in

PMID:
16881949
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1831581
Free PMC Article

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