Background: Informed consent is an important part of any medical procedure.
Objective: Our objective was to assess the impact of postal information on the understanding of consenting for gastrointestinal endoscopy.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: District hospital, United Kingdom.
Patients: A total of 1800 patients who attended and 314 patients who did not attend (DNA) for GI endoscopy.
Interventions: The patients' views questionnaire was given out at discharge to attendees and mailed to nonattendees after the proposed date of the procedure with a reassurance of anonymity.
Main outcome measurements: Survey responses.
Results: A total of 906 (43%) of the questionnaires were returned (DNAs = 60). Most responders felt the information supplied was appropriate. The majority felt the information supplied either helped them make an informed decision or raised further questions. However, a proportion of respondents felt it made no difference to their decision making. The majority (73%) preferred to know the risks. Of the 398 responses obtained in relation to preference of display of risks, 10.8% were not bothered if the risk was rare (ie, less than 1 in 1000) and 18.6% were interested in the complication rate of the endoscopist performing their procedure From the DNA group, 8.3% had been influenced by the information provided.
Limitations: Lack of literacy check and suboptimal subject participation.
Conclusions: Obtaining consent should be an individualized process tailored to the patients' needs. Patient preference for information and risk disclosure is variable but may be more than what is currently given in current clinical practice. Further research is needed to improve this communication process.