Kidney transplant consent forms may contribute to disparities

Oct 29, 2009
This is Elisa J. Gordon, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Northwestern University. Credit: American Society of Nephrology

Kidney transplant consent forms are often written at a level that makes it difficult for many kidney patients to fully understand them, according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in San Diego, CA. The study findings indicate that consent forms are written on average at a 12th-grade reading level, but to ensure all patients fully comprehend treatment options should be prepared at a 5th - 8th grade reading level. Doing so would enable all patients - regardless of education, race, ethnicity or language background to provide informed consent, which is both legally and ethically required before transplantation.

"We found that consent forms are written at considerably higher reading levels than they should be, and that can make it difficult for patients to make informed decisions about their care," said study author Elisa J. Gordon, PhD, MPH (Northwestern University). "Examining the readability of consent forms ensures that transplant candidates are well informed about transplantation processes, understand the material, and can provide informed consent. If the forms are not written clearly and simply, patients may not fully understand the risks and benefits of transplantation as well as their treatment options as stated on the consent forms."

Dr. Gordon and her colleagues contacted all active kidney transplant centers performing adult transplantation to request copies of their consent forms for kidney transplantation and donation from February - June 2009. Using three measures - Lexile Measure, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Gunning Fox - the researchers found reading levels ranged between 10th grade and college level.

Readability of kidney transplant consent forms is important because of the frequency of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Nearly 30 million Americans have some evidence , which can lead to kidney failure or ESRD, during which kidneys essentially fail and are no longer able to adequately remove waste products from the body. Approximately 485,000 Americans live with , a number which is estimated to grow to 785,000 by 2020. Patients with ESRD require dialysis three times a week or a kidney transplant to stay alive. Otherwise, toxins will build up in the body and cause death.

Studies show that one-third of men and women in the U.S. are at the lowest levels of health literacy. An estimated 93 million of the US adult population (43%) possess limited health literacy skills and may have trouble understanding and acting on health materials.

"We know that health literacy issues lead to disparities for other chronic diseases, and evidence suggests that it applies to patients with disease, too. This needs to be taken seriously and promptly addressed," said Dr. Gordon.

Source: American Society of Nephrology (news : web)

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Patient consent forms should educate not intimidate

Dec 17, 2008

It's time patient consent forms came back full circle to a tool for patient education, rather than the waiver of liability they have become. The original purpose of the consent forms was for a surgeon or doctor to inform ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.