Informed consent: this big unknown

Informed consent: this big unknown

Informed consent in psychology is one of the main tools at the disposal of the professional to highlight his ethics and his deontology. It could be viewed as a two-way dialogue process between a patient and a health expert.It shows the possible advantages and disadvantages of a treatment or a psychological study.

Its formal definition ensures that theconsent is "freely and voluntarily provided by the party affected by any actions in the field of health and, once she has received the appropriate information, will have assessed the options of her case "(Law 3/2001 of May 28, regulating the informed consent and the medical history of the patients).

Its post-war origin

You may have heard of Josef Mengele, known as Dr. Mengele or "Angel of Death". This German doctor went down in history for his sadism and terrible cruelty. Partisan of Nazism, he led for years experiments on human beings, especially on newborn twins.He used procedures that generated pain, physical and psychological damage irreversibly. Some even leading to death.

The beginnings of informed consent date back to the end of the Second World War (second half of the twentieth century).Its origin lies notably in the Nuremberg trials. These trials imposed sanctions against a large number of leaders, officials and collaborators of the Hitler regime, accused of war crimes.

Thus, as early as 1947, consent was considered as a fundamental pillar of scientific research involving human beings. The American doctors Leo Alexander and Andrew Comvay Ivy made a decalogue with a series of ethical standards. This Decalogue is known as the "Experimental Medical Experiment". hewould later take the name of "Nuremberg Code". His first point was essentially voluntary consent.

Content of informed consent

The obligations of the psychology professional are the rights of the user, and the duties of the user are the rights of the psychologist (Hernández, GA).The professional is therefore obliged to inform the patient in a truthful, clear, rigorous and complete way of the study, the intervention, the treatment or the psychological investigation. which he / she will participate. What are the points on which the professional must specifically inform?

  • Assessment of the disorder.It is to sensitize the patient on the alteration or the detected disease
  • Nature and duration of the proposed treatment. This is the number of sessions, monitoring, evaluation
  • Probable risks, side effects and disadvantages. These are risks that are reasonably foreseeable, based on sound scientific research
  • Expected benefits
  • Alternative treatments possible
  • In addition, a sixth element is currently added. It iss contractual aspects suchfees, coverage situations, limitations of confidentiality and the possible involvement of third parties

The conditions of informed consent

Informed consent is the formal medico-psychological procedure to respect the principle of patient autonomy. And, therefore, his dignity.It promulgates the obligation to respect all these people and their preferences regarding the medical care they receive. Taking into account the content of this document, the conditions to be met in the informed consent are as follows:

  • Voluntarism it is obtained without external pressure. In other words, the person must give it freely and voluntarily. No pressure, force, fraud, deception, persuasion, manipulation, coercion or any other form of coercion or coercion can occur. The patient must have the time to think, consult or decide.
  • Capacity : the individual must have the ability to make decisions. In other words, he must have the legal capacity to give his consent. There are situations where this is not the case. In case of deterioration of the mental state, of unconsciousness or for the minors, for example.
  • Information : the user must have enough information to be able to decide in a reasonable and justified way.
  • Comprehension The psychologist must ensure that the user understands the information provided. To receive it is therefore a right for the latter.

In writing and orally

The information contained in this document must be given orally and in writing.The goal is for the person receiving the communication to feel fully informed. That she may freely give her approval to the process.In the case of written communication, the process ends with the signing of the informed consent document. This signature confirms the understanding of everything that has been communicated to us.

As we have seen, the informed consent procedure is therefore in psychological practice. The absence of this communication mechanismcan also justify professional sanctions in case of psychological negligence.


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