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Minerva Pediatrica 2002 June;54(3):211-6


language: Italian

From informed to shared: the developing process of consent

Casari E. F., Massimo L. M. E.


Based on the respect of the four well known ethical principles ''autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice'', of clinical cognitive psychology, social psychology and bioethics, and in the light of moral values, we wish to comment the clinical problems involving informed consent for diagnostic procedures, treatment and research in pediatrics. Studies of the issues in attitudes and shared consent in the clinical management involving children, their parents and the therapeutic team are still limited. Our suggestion is to manage the process of informed consent as a negotiated ''shared consent'' originated from the cognitive social representation theory, and taking into consideration the evolutive characteristics of the cognitive processes in children and adolescents, the ego defence mechanisms, the coping behaviour activated in the relationship among the pediatric patient, his/her family and the physicians. Many parents told us that the informed consent process is helpful though often confusing. Satisfaction was not related to ethnicity or education level. They found discussions more helpful than the consent documents. The more difficult process concerned their understanding of the concept of randomisation and the request of their consent to this procedure. The model we suggest has also the aim to give adequate and honest informations to children and adolescents through a continuous dialogue with the physician, until this become a routinary part of their life in hospital care, to avoid confusion, to satisfy any request and curiosity, to be honest and helpful with any answer. We strongly believe that medical students, and in particular pediatricians, must be trained on ''communication'' and that they need to acquire, in addition to their medical capability, a good knowledge on this topic, including ethics and relational aspects. In our opinion, pediatricians must become expert also in the following topics: ''Problem-related Learning'', ''The Family System Health Model'', ''The Theory of Social Representations'', ''Gadamerian Hermeneutics'', and ''The Communicative Skills''.

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