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Publication - Professor Richard Huxtable

    Core information sets for informed consent to surgical interventions

    baseline information of importance to patients and clinicians

    Citation

    Main, B, McNair, A, Huxtable, R, Donovan, J, Thomas, S, Kinnersley, P & Blazeby, J, 2017, ‘Core information sets for informed consent to surgical interventions: baseline information of importance to patients and clinicians’. BMC Medical Ethics, vol 18.

    Abstract

    Background

    Consent remains a crucial, yet challenging, cornerstone of clinical practice. The ethical, legal and professional understandings of this construct have evolved away from a doctor-centred act to a patient-centred process that encompasses the patient’s values, beliefs and goals. This alignment of consent with the philosophy of shared decision-making was affirmed in a recent high-profile Supreme Court ruling in England. The communication of information is central to this model of health care delivery but it can be difficult for doctors to gauge the information needs of the individual patient. The aim of this paper is to describe ‘core information sets’ which are defined as a minimum set of consensus-derived information about a given procedure to be discussed with all patients. Importantly, they are intended to catalyse discussion of subjective importance to individuals.

    Main body

    The model described in this paper applies health services research and Delphi consensus-building methods to an idea orginally proposed 30 years ago. The hypothesis is that, first, large amounts of potentially-important information are distilled down to discrete information domains. These are then, secondly, rated by key stakeholders in multiple iterations, so that core information of agreed importance can be defined. We argue that this scientific approach is key to identifying information important to all stakeholders, which may otherwise be communicated poorly or omitted from discussions entirely. Our methods apply systematic review, qualitative, survey and consensus-building techniques to define this ‘core information’. We propose that such information addresses the ‘reasonable patient’ standard for information disclosure but, more importantly, can serve as a spring board for high-value discussion of importance to the individual patient.

    Conclusion

    The application of established research methods can define information of core importance to informed consent. Further work will establish how best to incorporate this model in routine practice.

    Full details in the University publications repository