The oral communication principle and coming up to informed decision requirements in national screening programs

The oral communication principle and coming up to informed decision requirements in national screening programs
Short Communication
Birkeland
Public Health, May 2020; 182 pp 51-52
Abstract
Objective
Informed consent (IC) principles are often overlooked aspects in debates about national screening programs. This short communication examines the Danish approach to IC in decision-making about screening participation.
Study design
A descriptive approach is adopted in linking present screening practices with Danish regulation about IC and international ethical principles.
Methods
To ascertain the extent to which screening procedures come up to IC requirements, the article adopts a review approach by examining relevant Danish national legislation including ministerial orders as well as international ethical codes.
Results
The article finds that, although Danish legislation as well as international IC principles generally stipulates a decision-making process requiring oral communication, current procedures largely rely on one-way communication through written information available from leaflets, web sites, etc. Screening programs seem to have established no general formula to qualify healthcare users’ understanding of data underlying their choice whether to be screened.
Conclusion
The deviance from common IC principles may reduce healthcare quality, pose a safety problem, and challenge healthcare users’ ability to exercise autonomy.

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