Informed consent, or, consent on a form : an ethical or legal dilemma? : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Anthropology at Massey University
Informed consent is a worthwhile concept but in my view it does not work within the hospital institution in New Zealand. Why? • Because the continued emphasis in theory and in practice is still on consent rather than choice and so the focus of the healthcare professional continues to be a signed consent form rather than the process of informing leading to choice? • Because, to 'fully' inform and to ensure a person 'fully' understands is impossible...fully should be replaced with 'substantially' to make informed consent possible. • Because the underlying principle of the present model of informed consent is autonomy, a Western concept centered on individualism, a view that is not held by all healthcare professionals or all healthcare consumers. A combination of autonomy, cross-cultural approach, 'ethics of care', and feminist perspective needs to be incorporated within moral theory that informs bioethics - ensuring the patient is viewed as autonomous and relational. • And lastly, to accommodate true informed consent/choice a different approach to the relationship within the clinical encounter needs to happen; one of effective communication, collaboration and shared decision-making.