Kidney Transplant Consent Forms May Need a Make-Over

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This article is part of our ongoing coverage of Renal Week 2009. Click here for a complete list of our Renal Week Live articles.


Key Points
  • A new study suggests that these forms are often written at a level that makes it difficult for many kidney patients to fully understand them.
  • Consent forms are written on average at a 12th-grade reading level.
  • Writing them at a 5th to 8th grade reading level would enable all patients to fully comprehend treatment options.

It may be time to make-over kidney transplant consent forms. A new study suggests that these forms are often written at a level that makes it difficult for many kidney patients to fully understand them.

The study found that consent forms are written on average at a 12th-grade reading level. but to ensure that all patients the forms should be Writing them at a 5th to 8th grade reading level would enable all patients, regardless of education, race, ethnicity, or language background to fully comprehend treatment options, which is both legally and ethically required before transplantation.

“We know that health literacy issues lead to disparities for other chronic diseases, and evidence suggests that [that idea] applies to patients with kidney disease too,” said lead study investigator Elisa Gordon, PhD, MPH, Research Associate Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “This needs to be taken seriously and promptly addressed.”

Dr. Gordon and her colleagues requested copies of consent forms from all active kidney transplant centers in the United States performing adult. Using three measures (Lexile Measure, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Gunning Fox), the researchers found reading levels ranged from the 10th grade to college level.

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