Do they listen? A review of information retained by patients following consent for reduction mammoplasty

Br J Plast Surg. 2000 Mar;53(2):121-5. doi: 10.1054/bjps.1999.3220.


For valid informed consent the nature, purpose and material risks of the proposed procedure must be discussed. This study aims to clarify how much of this information is retained by the competent patient who gives written consent for reduction mammoplasty. A total of 38 patients were taken through specific and general factors relating to reduction mammoplasty by their surgeon at the time of obtaining consent. Six days following surgery they were asked how many facts they had retained. They were also asked to grade their surgeon on his/her ability at obtaining an informed consent and to suggest anything they felt would make consent clearer. The overall recall of facts by the patients was poor. The average number of retained facts was three out of twelve mentioned. Despite poor recall, 97% of the patients felt that the procedure of obtaining consent was adequate. 63% of patients gave the procedure for obtaining consent maximal score suggesting they were entirely satisfied. 74% would have liked some visual back-up at the time of giving their consent such as a photograph. Consent is a two-way process with clear information from the doctor and the understanding of that information by the patient. Despite poor retention of this information, patients in this study felt they had received clear information allowing written consent.

MeSH terms

  • Audiovisual Aids
  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Mammaplasty* / adverse effects
  • Mental Recall*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires