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Background: Informed consent (IC) is linked to the ethical principle of respecting patient autonomy, respect for human rights and ethical practice, while in many countries it is a standard procedure. Anecdotally, it should be noted that in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in many instances ICs are not obtained systematically. To date, no research appears to have been conducted on this matter. This study aimed to assess the knowledge and practice of obtaining IC from patients among health care providers (HCP) in the DRC.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study, with a convenient sampling of 422 participants. Data from the questions were collected on an imported Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for review at INSTAT.TM The authors set IC's accurate knowledge and practice at 80% or higher. The Fisher Exact test was used to compare categorical association results, and a p-value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Results showed that giving information in detail to patients on their medical condition was associated with formal training on medical ethics and IC (p: 0.0028; OR: 1.894; CI: 1.246 to 2.881), which was also associated with answering the patient’s questions in detail (p: 0.0035; OR: 1.852; CI: 1.236 to 2.774). About 127(30.09 %) of participants scored 80% or higher. Extracurricular training was associated with withholding information from patients, up to 27 times more than other factors (p< 0.0001; OR: 27.042; CI: 13.628 to 53.657). when it comes to get IC, HCP with many years of practice scored better than others, in one of the question the odd ratio was closer to 7 ( p< 0.0001; OR: 6.713; CI: 4.352 to 10.356). Only 47(11.14%) of the participants scored 80% or more of the questions about practice of IC.
Conclusion: For a variety of reasons, knowledge and practice of IC among HCPs was very low. A common programme for the country as part of formal training might lead to an improvement. In addition, patients’ education on IC should be displayed in waiting areas at all medical centres.
Keywords: Informed consent; medical examinations; procedures by health workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.