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In order to fully participate in informed consent, patients must understand what it is that they are agreeing, or not agreeing, to. In most cases, patients look to their clinicians to help develop the appropriate understanding required to give informed consent. Often the quality of the information available as well as the delivery methods are not optimal.
Using a visual aid as an adjunct to risk communication in a stressful setting as the Emergency Department has a clear potential in facilitating the communication process. To support more accurate and consistent presentation of risk, we formed a team with implementation scientists, patient education specialists, nurses, physicians, and professional designers to transform the information available into a 6th grade reading level visual aid tool. We applied a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) process to design the tool. We measured and analyzed its effectiveness through feedback from providers, patients, and caregivers. This cycle happened 3 times until we reached the final version of the visual aid.
We utilized a DMAIC methodology as well as modified Delphi method to create and refine a visual aid tool. Several rounds of end-user feedback along with DMAIC allowed us to create a tool that was consistently better with each round of development, analysis and feedback. After arriving at the final version of the tool, we surveyed physicians in our Emergency Department. We measured the difficulty to understand the information, whether doctors think the visual aid will help patients to understand the data, and the appropriateness of the tool’s length and the amount of information in it.
We believe that our experience can be replicated by other researchers and clinicians in the endeavor of translating the evidence into clinical practice. An effort should be made to fully translate research findings until the end of the research to practice continuum in order to better translate knowledge into a useful and useable form for informed consent decisions in busy clinical practice.
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