Patient Reported Experience on Consenting for Surgery – Elective Versus Emergency Patients

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Introduction: Informed consent for surgery is a medical and legal requirement, but completing these does not necessarily translate to high patient satisfaction. This patient-reported experience study aimed to examine the surgical consent process, comparing the patients’ experience in elective and emergency settings. Methods: Over a 6-mo period, postoperative patients at The Alfred Hospital Breast and Endocrine Surgical Unit were invited to participate in a survey on the surgical consent process – including perceived priorities, information provided and overall experience. Standard statistical techniques were used, with a significant P-value of < 0.05. Results: A total of 412 patients were invited, with 130 (32%) responses. More patients underwent elective surgery (N= 90, 69%) than emergency surgery (N = 40, 31%). Emergency patients were more likely to sign the consent form regardless of its contents (93% versus 39%, P < 0.001) and more likely to be influenced by external pressures (63% versus 1%, P < 0.001). Elective patients were more likely to want to discuss their surgery with a senior surgeon (74% versus 23%, P < 0.001) and more likely to seek advice from external sources (83% versus 10%, P < 0.001). Both groups highly valued the opportunity to ask questions (67% versus 63%, P = 0.65). Conclusion: This study shows patients have a range of different priorities in preparation for surgery. Therefore, each consent process should be patient-specific, and focus on providing the patient with quality resources that inform decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-121
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Informed consent
  • Patient priorities
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Patient-reported satisfaction
  • Surgery

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