“Do I get a say in this?” Are we Meeting National Standards for Informed Consent with Aboriginal Patients?

Anna Dowling, Janet Kelly, Wendy Keech, Katharine McBride, Alex Brown

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Introduction: The national health service standards state that patients should know their care options and be supported to make informed treatment decisions in partnership with clinicians(ACSQHC,2016). However, in an acute cardiac event, many pressures may prevent fully informed consent occurring. This study sought Aboriginal patient and staff perspectives on the informed consent processes. Method: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander acute cardiac patients and their families (n = 26); and staff working in cardiac wards at four hospitals across South Australia and Northern Territory (n = 58). Results: Staff recognised the importance of informed consent for Aboriginal patients, but expressed concern about the process. Barriers to gaining fully informed consent included limited access to liaison officers and interpreters, clinical time constraints in the acute settings, overuse of medical jargon, and lack of involvement of families and communities. Whilst patients reported receiving adequate information for informed consent,many also demonstrated poor understanding of their condition and treatment. Both patients and staff were concerned about inadequate time for processing information and considering options. Discussion & Conclusion: Clear two-way communication between the clinician, patient, family and support staff is critical for truly informed consent. Processes for informed consent may need to be adapted to meet the specific needs of Aboriginal cardiac patients. For Aboriginal patients being transferred for treatment, commencing consent processes with primary carers who know them patient well, either prior to departure transfer or whilst in cardiac care may be the most appropriate approach.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event65th Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting - Perth, Australia
Duration: 10 Aug 201713 Aug 2017


Conference65th Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting

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