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J Law Med. 2002 Nov;10(2):174-86.

Cervical manipulation--how might informed consent be obtained before treatment?

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School of Physiotherapy, University of Melbourne.


This article discusses methods and mediums of obtaining informed consent in physiotherapy clinical practice, specifically in relation to cervical manipulation. Whilst cervical manipulation is a useful method of treatment for spinal joint pain and dysfunction, it has also been shown to be ineffective or even positively harmful. Legal precedents have set boundaries for informing patients of such adverse consequences. However, a degree of uncertainty exists in the physiotherapy profession, as in other health care professions, as to how to obtain informed consent in a busy clinical setting in order to discharge the legal duties owed. Obtaining meaningful informed consent in clinical practice raises issues of patient comprehension, memory and decision-making capacity. A large quantity of research directed at enhancing patient understanding has been undertaken in recent years. The important findings are that a variety of communication methods and mediums need to be employed in both providing information and assessing patient understanding. A combination of verbal, written and audiovisual information provides patients with maximum opportunity to be involved in treatment decisions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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