Background Although informed consent is vital to patient-physician communication, little training is provided to surgical trainees. We hypothesized that highlighting critical aspects of informed consent would improve resident performance. Methods Eighty (out of 88) surgical postgraduate year 1 surgical residents were randomly assigned to one of the 2 cases (laparoscopic cholecystectomy or ventral herniorrhaphy) and instructed to obtain and document informed consent with a standardized patient (SP) followed by a didactic training session. The residents then obtained and documented informed consent with the other case with the other SP. SPs graded encounters ("Checklist"); trained raters graded notes. Repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to determine differences between pre- and post-training and Checklist versus "Note" scores. Results Statistically significant pre- to post differences for Note (P <.01) and Checklist (P <.01) along with significant differences between Note and Checklist (P <.01) were noted. Conclusions Training improved surgery residents' ability to discuss and document informed consent. Despite this improvement, significant differences between discussion and documentation persisted. Documentation training is a future area for improvement.
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