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Survey of veterinary clients' perceptions of informed consent at a referral hospital
  1. M. Whiting, BSc BVetMed MA PhD DipECAWBM (AWSEL) MRCVS1,
  2. A. Alexander, BVetMed MRCVS2,
  3. M. Habiba, MBBCh MSc PhD PhD FRCOG3 and
  4. H. A. Volk, DVM PGCAP PhD DipECVN MRCVS4
  1. 1Animal Welfare and Ethics, Department of Production and Population Health, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Herts AL9 7TA, UK
  2. 2Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Herts AL9 7TA, UK
  3. 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester LE1 5WW, UK
  4. 4Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Herts AL9 7TA, UK
  5. 5M. Habiba also at Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester LE1 5WW, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: mwhiting{at}rvc.ac.uk

Abstract

This retrospective questionnaire study evaluates the perceptions of veterinary clients of the informed consent process and the consent form in a veterinary referral hospital. Replicating a validated perception survey from human medicine, 470 clients at the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals were surveyed on their perceptions during the consenting process through postal survey examining their understanding, experience and recall of informed consent. Of the 165 responses (35 per cent response rate), the majority of clients recalled the process and signing the form; however, half of the clients did not feel in control (51 per cent) or reassured (53 per cent) by the process. There was limited understanding of the purpose of consent, with 45 per cent thinking it removed their right to compensation for negligence and 31 per cent thought the veterinarian could do something different from the agreed procedure. Sixty per cent of clients did not read the form, as they trusted their veterinarian, but 33 per cent of clients felt frightened by the process. This survey highlights the need to understand the process of consent from the client's perspective, and adapt the consenting process to incorporate this into professional communication to ensure that the professional and contractual objectives of consent are met fully.

  • Ethics
  • Law relating to animals
  • Practice management
  • Surveys
  • Veterinary profession
  • Accepted September 22, 2016.

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