Attitude towards informed consent practice in a developing country: a community-based assessment of the role of educational status

BMC Medical Ethics
(Accessed 25 October 2014)
http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmedethics/content

Research article
Attitude towards informed consent practice in a developing country: a community-based assessment of the role of educational status
Kenneth Amaechi Agu, Emmanuel Ikechukwu Obi, Boniface Ikenna Eze and Wilfred Okwudili Okenwa
Author Affiliations
BMC Medical Ethics 2014, 15:77 doi:10.1186/1472-6939-15-77
Published: 22 October 2014
Abstract (provisional)
Background
It has been reported by some studies that the desire to be involved in decisions concerning one’s healthcare especially with regard to obtaining informed consent is related to educational status. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to assess the influence of educational status on attitude towards informed consent practice in three south-eastern Nigerian communities.
Methods
Responses from consenting adult participants from three randomly selected communities in Enugu State, southeast Nigeria were obtained using self- / interviewer-administered questionnaire.
Results
There were 2545 respondents (1508 males and 1037 females) with an age range of 18 to 65 years. More than 70% were aged 40 years and below and 28.4% were married. More than 70% of the respondents irrespective of educational status will not leave all decisions about their healthcare to the doctor. A lower proportion of those with no formal education (18.5%) will leave this entire decision-making process in the hands of the doctor compared to those with tertiary education (21.9%). On being informed of all that could go wrong with a procedure, 61.5% of those with no formal education would consider the doctor unsafe and incompetent while 64.2% of those with tertiary education would feel confident about the doctor. More than 85% of those with tertiary education would prefer consent to be obtained by the doctor who will carry out the procedure as against 33.8% of those with no formal education. Approximately 70% of those who had tertiary education indicated that informed consent was necessary for procedures on children, while the greater number of those with primary (64.4%) and no formal education (76.4%) indicated that informed consent was not necessary for procedures on children. Inability to understand the information was the most frequent specific response among those without formal education on why they would leave all the decisions to the doctor.
Conclusion
The study showed that knowledge of the informed consent practice increased with level of educational attainment but most of the participants irrespective of educational status would want to be involved in decisions about their healthcare. This knowledge will be helpful to healthcare providers in obtaining informed consent.