Improving surgical informed consent in obstetric and gynaecologic surgeries in a teaching hospital in Ethiopia: a before and after study

Million Teshome, Zenebe Wolde, Abel Gedefaw, Anteneh Asefa

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Objectives: Even though surgical informed consent (SIC) has marked benefits, in many settings the information is not provided appropriately. In Ethiopia, minimal attention is given to SIC. This study assesses whether an intervention designed to improve SIC in obstetric and gynaecologic surgeries is associated with receipt of SIC components.

Design: Pre-intervention and post-intervention surveys were conducted at Hawassa University Comprehensive Specialized Hospital among women who underwent obstetric or gynaecologic surgeries. The intervention consisted of a 3-day training on standard counselling for surgical procedures offered to health professionals. A total of 457 women were surveyed (230 pre-intervention, 227 post-intervention). An adjusted Poisson regression analysis was used to identify the association between the intervention and the number of SIC components received.

Results: The majority of participants were 25-34 years of age in both the pre-intervention and post-intervention groups (p=0.66). 45.7% of the pre-intervention and 51.5% of the post-intervention survey participants underwent elective surgery (p=0.21). Additionally, 70.4% of pre-intervention survey participants received counselling immediately before surgery, compared with 62.4% of post-intervention participants (p<0.001). 5.7% of pre-intervention and 6.6% of post-intervention participants reported the belief that SIC consists entirely of signing on a piece of paper (p=0.66). After controlling for effects of potential confounders, the number of SIC components reported by post-intervention survey participants was 16% higher than what is received by pre-intervention ones (adjusted coefficient=1.16 (1.06-1.28)). Having elective versus emergency surgery was not associated with the number of components received by participants in either group (adjusted coefficient=0.98 (0.88-1.09)).

Conclusion: Training on the delivery of standard SIC is associated with receipt of a higher number of standard counselling components. However, there is a need to evaluate whether a one-time intervention leads to sustained improvement. A system-wide study of factors that promote SIC is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere023408
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures/education
  • Hospitals, Teaching/organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent/standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital/organization & administration
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Quality Improvement
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


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