Is informed consent a "yes or no" response? Enhancing the shared decision-making process for persons with aphasia.

Stroke/Neurology Rehabilitation Program, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation (Impact Factor: 0.79). 02/2006; 13(4):42-6. DOI: 10.1310/tsr1304-42
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Respect for patient autonomy and the need to have a comprehensive discussion of the risks and benefits of a medical intervention are two important issues involved in the process of obtaining informed consent. In dealing with individuals with aphasia, there may be particular challenges in balancing these two ethical imperatives. Although decision-making capacity may be preserved with aphasia, the patients' ability to fully participate in a dialogue regarding a proposed medical intervention is frequently impaired. We propose a process of enhancing informed consent for persons with aphasia while continuing to respect and enhance patient autonomy and the exercise of decision making for these patients. The use of a patient-selected "helper" during the informed consent process can improve the quality of the informed consent, while reserving final decision-making authority for the patient.

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