Infertility treatment and informed consent: Current practices of reproductive endocrinologists

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Abstract

Objective: To determine current practice patterns of obtaining informed consent for infertility treatment by reproductive endocrinologists and to assess changes in response to reports of an association between ovulation induction and ovarian cancer. Methods: Board-certified reproductive endocrinologists (n = 575) were surveyed by mail regarding how they informed patients and obtained consent for infertility treatments and how their practices had been influenced by studies suggesting a link between ovulation induction and ovarian cancer. Data were analyzed using χ2 and logistic regression analyses. Results: The return rate was 62.1% (357 of 575 surveys). Most respondents (92%) used discussions with physicians to inform their patients of risks and benefits of all infertility treatments. Additional means, such as audiovisual aids, were used significantly more often for assisted reproductive technologies (including intracytoplasmic sperm injection and use of donated eggs) than for less invasive therapies (31-43% versus 4-11%, P < .001). Most physicians (46-66%) used verbal consent alone for hysterosalpingogram, intrauterine insemination, and ovulation induction. Formal written consent was used significantly more often for the various assisted reproductive technologies than for hysterosalpingogram, intrauterine insemination, or ovulation induction (9495% versus 26-44%). Although most physicians (70%) did not believe that ovulation induction increases the risk of ovarian cancer, 83% addressed this risk when obtaining consent and 47% reported changing their practices since an association was reported. Common changes included limiting length of treatment and addressing ovarian cancer risk. Conclusion: Current practice patterns of obtaining informed consent for various infertility treatments by board-certified reproductive endocrinologists show, as expected, that informed consent is more rigorous for assisted reproductive technologies. Although most surveyed did not believe that ovulation induction increases risk of ovarian cancer, the majority of physicians addressed that risk when obtaining consent and nearly half changed their practices on the basis of a possible association.

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Houmard, B. S., & Seifer, D. B. (1999). Infertility treatment and informed consent: Current practices of reproductive endocrinologists. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 93(2), 252–257. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0029-7844(98)00389-5

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