Informed Consent Discussions Often Miss Key Topics

In discussion of clinical trials, prognosis often omitted; patients likely to misinterpret info

MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- When oncologists and cancer patients discuss informed consent for clinical trial participation, oncologists may leave out key topics, while patients may interpret information incorrectly, according to a study published online Nov. 22 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Valerie Jenkins, Ph.D., of the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K., and colleagues recorded informed consent conversations between 17 oncologists and 52 patients. After the conversations, the oncologists completed questionnaires on the topics they had discussed, while the researchers interviewed the patients to test their recall and understanding of the conversation. Both patients and oncologists also completed the Life Orientation Test-Revised questionnaire to determine post-conversation optimism.

The researchers found that information was either missing or had been explained but was misinterpreted by patients in several key areas. Discussion of prognosis was frequently omitted; coders and patients were significantly more likely to agree that oncologists had not discussed it. However, coders and oncologists were significantly more likely to agree that alternate care plans to trial entry had been explained.

"These data indicate that fundamental components of communication and information sharing about phase I trial participation are often missing from interviews. Important omissions included discussion of prognosis and ensuring patient understanding about supportive care," the authors write.

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