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Med Glas (Zenica). 2011 Feb;8(1):39-45.

Physicians overestimate patient's knowledge of the process of informed consent: a cross-sectional study.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Split University Hospital Centre, Split, Croatia.



To evaluate the differences in the knowledge and attitudes of physicians and patients regarding the informed consent process.


After institutional approval was obtained cohorts of 269 physicians and 265 patients completed a voluntary multiple-choice questionnaire on the informed consent process.


Most of the responses between physicians and patients were significantly different. A total of 77 physicians (30.7%) reported that they personally informed patients about their medical condition and forthcoming clinical procedures in detail and 138 (55%) informed patients as much as necessary. Only 29 patients (11%) reported being informed in detail, and 186 (70.2%) reported that they received only basic information (P < 0.001). Although 132 physicians (52.6%) reported that their patients received sufficient information to be able to decide on their treatment, only 31 patient (11.7%) reported the same (P < 0.001). Half of the doctors (126, 50.2%) reported that they informed their patients in detail on the possible consequences of treatment refusal whereas 23 patients (8.7%) were given such information.


There is a great discrepancy between physicians and patients concerning both understanding and knowledge of the informed consent process. The physicians have evaluated their practice of giving information and obtaining informed consent to be more detailed than their patients. The results of this study reflect the need for better communication between doctors and patients as well as physician and patient education programs on the process of informed consent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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