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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 34 (1992) 2

New research

`Informed consent' regarding electro convulsive therapy (ECT)

A.M. Koster

The `informed consent'-procedure (IC) regarding ECT presupposes that the signer understands the information which is presented. Next, the signer must be capable of making a deliberate decision on his willingness to undergo the treatment. In virtue of the Act on the Treatment Contract optimal application of the IC-procedure is required. On the basis of empirical research on 98 patients, their family and physicians, some critical remarks are made concerning aspects of the IC-procedure in the case of ECT. The capacity of ECT patients to understand treatment information is overestimated: 34 patients were not able to sign the consent-form personally not-withstanding the fact that their physicians stated to have discussed the treatmentplan with 91 patients. In particular with psychotically depressed patients family members tent to sign the IC although they often do not feel involved in the information procedure. The information has to be adjusted to the patients' cognitive abilities and their capability to make judgments about the consequences of various alternatives.