Purpose: To determine whether a visual aid improves the understanding and retention of information presented during informed consent for rural, indigent patients presenting for cataract surgery.
Materials and methods: This was a randomized, unmasked, interventional study. We recruited patients who presented to the Hande Surgical Hospital in Chennai, India, for cataract surgery. Patients were randomized into two groups: verbal consent alone (group A) and verbal consent plus a poster (group B). Both groups completed an 11-question true/false quiz immediately before and after informed consent and one day after surgery.
Results: A total of 60 patients were recruited for the study, with 30 randomly assigned to each group; 23 patients from group A and 17 from group B completed the study. Informed consent improved patient scores in both groups; however, group B had significantly higher mean scores on postoperative day 1 (7.4 vs 8.7, P = 0.005) and significantly greater improvement in mean scores from pre-informed consent to postoperative day 1 (1.3 vs 3.6, P = 0.002).
Conclusions: Informed consent improves patient understanding of cataract surgery. Using a visual aid during informed consent for cataract surgery improves understanding and retention of information more than verbal consent alone in a rural South Indian population.