The art of consent: visual materials help adult patients make informed choices about surgical care

Cilein Kearns, Nethmi Kearns, Anna Paisley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Supporting patients in making informed healthcare decisions is a cornerstone of ethical medical practice. Surgeons frequently draw for and show images to patients when consenting them for operations but the value of this practice in informed decision-making is unclear. An audit was conducted in a General Surgery Department. 244 patients completed questionnaires on the value of visual materials when giving consent for surgery. The complexity of the operations was classified into “simple”, “moderate” or “complex”. 100% of patients felt they had given informed consent to surgery. 62% of patients received at least one form of visual material during the consenting process. All patients who received a drawing, and 99% of those provided with other images, valued these resources. Visual materials were considered more useful to patients when giving consent for moderate or complex operations than simple ones. Approximately one third of patients who did not receive visual materials would have appreciated these when making an informed decision. This research highlights the value of surgeons drawing for, and providing other visual resources to, their patients as part of the consent process. There is a role for further research and training materials in drawing skills for surgeons.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visual Communication in Medicine
Early online date4 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Dec 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'The art of consent: visual materials help adult patients make informed choices about surgical care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this