An exploration of the process of informed consent for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): the nurses' and doctors' role.
Burke, Shona Marie
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Experience suggests that there is variability in the knowledge of medical and nursing staff with regard to informed consent. This includes the type of information given to patients to enable them to make an informed decision in the consent process, as suggested by Rose et al (2005). The purpose of this study is to explore the nature, indication and processes of informed consent in patients receiving ECT. The study used quantitative and qualitative methods including a questionnaire survey of ECT nurses in Scotland. The sample consisted of ECT consultants and ECT nurses at 24 ECT sites in Scotland and a user representative who also has knowledge of ECT. This ascertained their interpretation of their role in the consent process. The survey findings helped to inform the design of the modified Delphi study phase (Jones and Hunter 1995) of the project. This established the knowledge base required for patients to be considered “fully informed” to consent to ECT. Questionnaire data were analysed using SPSS (version 15.0 for Windows) and the knowledge base was synthesized utilizing a modified version of the Delphi consensus process. The benefit of the study is that a tool has been developed which can be administered by staff to confirm that the knowledge required for informed consent has been obtained in patients consenting to ECT. Practice can also be developed through increased awareness of informed consent so that each ECT treatment is administered in the context of fully informed consent.