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Digital Informed Consent: Modernising Information Sharing in Surgery to Empower Patients

Parsons, Simon L.; Daliya, Prita; Evans, Phil; Lobo, Dileep N.


Simon L. Parsons

Prita Daliya

Phil Evans

Professor of Gastrointestinal Surgery


Background Despite the 2015 Montgomery Ruling highlighting key requisites for informed consent, little has changed to modernise data-sharing and documentation of the consent process. It can be difficult to gauge patient understanding and address all patient concerns in time-limited appointments. We aimed to assess the feasibility of a digital information-sharing platform to support a move towards a digital informed consent process.

Methods All adult patients referred to a single centre with symptomatic gallstones were invited to use a digital information-sharing platform to support the informed consent process prior to their first surgical clinic appointment. The platform provided patients with multimedia information on gallstones and available treatment options. It recorded the time spent accessing information, asked patients multiple choice questions (MCQs) to allow a self-test of understanding, documented a summary medical history, and allowed free text for patient questions. This information was summarised into a clinical report to support outpatient clinic consultations.

Results Of the 349 patients registered to use the digital platform, 203 (58.2%) [165 (81.3%) female, mean age 47.6 years (range 19–84 years)] completed all modules necessary to generate a clinical report. Some 130 patients (64.0%) answered all 10 MCQs correctly and spent a mean of 18.7 min (range 3–88 min) reading the consent information. Most patient-reported medical histories were deemed to be accurate.

Conclusion Despite difficulties with access, resulting in drop-outs, patients welcomed the opportunity to receive information digitally, prior to their consultation. Patients described feeling empowered and better informed to be involved in decision-making.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 14, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 3, 2022
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Dec 6, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 6, 2022
Journal World Journal of Surgery
Print ISSN 0364-2313
Electronic ISSN 1432-2323
Publisher Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Pages 649-657
Keywords Surgery
Public URL
Publisher URL


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