The Elderly Patient and Informed Consent: Empirical Findings
JAMA. 1984 Sep 14; 252(10): 1302-1306.
This study examines the competence of the elderly to give informed consent to participate in research by assessing and comparing the willingness of elderly and young medical patients to participate in six hypothetical experiments of various risk-benefit ratios. Competence was determined by a three-part analysis of the consent--comprehension of consent material, quality of reasoning about the decision whether or not to participate, and reasonableness of choice. The elderly subjects showed significantly poorer understanding of consent material but only insignificantly poorer scores in the other two dimensions. The authors cautiously generalize to treatment situations and suggest screening for competence, developing aids to comprehension, enlisting family members' help, and seeking proxy consent if necessary. (KIE abstract)
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