Introduction: The competence assessment to give informed consent in the legal and healthcare settings is often performed merely through clinical judgment. Given the acknowledged limited reliability of clinician-based evaluation in the mental health sector, particularly for the assessment of competence to consent, our objective was to ascertain the dependability of clinical judgment when evaluating the ability of schizophrenia patients to make choices about their health. Methods: The potential convergence between clinical evaluation and scores from a new standardized assessment (the "Evaluation of Informed Consent to Treatment" - "EICT" scale) was therefore tested. The scale assesses four dimensions of competence, specifically how patients normally understand information relating to care (Understanding); how they evaluate the choice of treatment in terms of risk/benefit ratio (Evaluating); how they reason coherently in the decision-making process (Reasoning); and, finally, their ability to make a choice between treatment alternatives (Expressing a choice). Thirty-four outpatients with schizophrenia were evaluated for their competence to consent by five referring clinicians with different backgrounds (psychiatrist, forensic psychiatrist, geriatrician, anesthetist, and medico-legal doctor). Inter-raters variability was tested through correlation analyses between the scores obtained by the clinicians on a modified version of the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF) designed specifically to subjectively assess functioning in each of the four competence dimensions. Two validated competence scales (Mac-CAT-T, SICIATRI-R), and a neuropsychological battery were also administered along with scales for evaluating neuropsychiatric symptoms severity and side effects of medication. Results: Clinical judgments of the individual specialists showed great inter-rater variability. Likewise, only weak/non-significant correlations were found between the EICT subscales and the respective clinicians-rated GAF scales. Conversely, solid correlations were found between the EICT and MacCAT-T subscales. As expected, healthy controls performed better in the ability to give informed consent to treatment, as measured by the three scales (i.e., EICT, MacCAT-T, and SICIATRI-R), and neuropsychological test performance. In the comparisons between patients who, according to the administered EICT, were able or not able to give informed consent to treatment, significant differences emerged for the Phonemic verbal fluency task (p = 0.038), Verbal judgments (p = 0.048), MacCAT-T subscales, and SICIATRI-R total score. Moreover, EICT exhibited excellent internal consistency (Cronbach's alphas ranging from 0.96 to 0.98 for the four subscales) while the Item Analysis, by measuring the correlation between each item of the EICT and the total score, was excellent for all items of all subscales (alphas ranging from 0.86 to 0.98). Discussion: In conclusion, our findings highlighted that the assessment of competence exclusively through clinical judgment is not fully reliable and needs the support of standardized tools. The EICT scale could therefore be useful in assessing general competence to consent both in healthcare and legal contexts, where it might be necessary to evaluate the effective competence of patients with psychiatric disorders. Finally, this scale could serve as a valuable tool for decisions regarding whether and to what extent a patient needs support.

Reliability of clinical judgment for evaluation of informed consent in mental health settings and the validation of the Evaluation of Informed Consent to Treatment (EICT) scale / Di Fazio, Nicola; Morena, Donato; Piras, Federica; Piras, Fabrizio; Banaj, Nerisa; Delogu, Giuseppe; Damato, Felice; Frati, Paola; Fineschi, Vittorio; Ferracuti, Stefano; Sani, Gabriele; Dacquino, Claudia. - In: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY. - ISSN 1664-1078. - 15:(2024). [10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1309909]

Reliability of clinical judgment for evaluation of informed consent in mental health settings and the validation of the Evaluation of Informed Consent to Treatment (EICT) scale

Di Fazio, Nicola;Morena, Donato;Piras, Federica;Delogu, Giuseppe;Damato, Felice;Frati, Paola;Fineschi, Vittorio;Ferracuti, Stefano;Sani, Gabriele;Dacquino, Claudia
2024

Abstract

Introduction: The competence assessment to give informed consent in the legal and healthcare settings is often performed merely through clinical judgment. Given the acknowledged limited reliability of clinician-based evaluation in the mental health sector, particularly for the assessment of competence to consent, our objective was to ascertain the dependability of clinical judgment when evaluating the ability of schizophrenia patients to make choices about their health. Methods: The potential convergence between clinical evaluation and scores from a new standardized assessment (the "Evaluation of Informed Consent to Treatment" - "EICT" scale) was therefore tested. The scale assesses four dimensions of competence, specifically how patients normally understand information relating to care (Understanding); how they evaluate the choice of treatment in terms of risk/benefit ratio (Evaluating); how they reason coherently in the decision-making process (Reasoning); and, finally, their ability to make a choice between treatment alternatives (Expressing a choice). Thirty-four outpatients with schizophrenia were evaluated for their competence to consent by five referring clinicians with different backgrounds (psychiatrist, forensic psychiatrist, geriatrician, anesthetist, and medico-legal doctor). Inter-raters variability was tested through correlation analyses between the scores obtained by the clinicians on a modified version of the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF) designed specifically to subjectively assess functioning in each of the four competence dimensions. Two validated competence scales (Mac-CAT-T, SICIATRI-R), and a neuropsychological battery were also administered along with scales for evaluating neuropsychiatric symptoms severity and side effects of medication. Results: Clinical judgments of the individual specialists showed great inter-rater variability. Likewise, only weak/non-significant correlations were found between the EICT subscales and the respective clinicians-rated GAF scales. Conversely, solid correlations were found between the EICT and MacCAT-T subscales. As expected, healthy controls performed better in the ability to give informed consent to treatment, as measured by the three scales (i.e., EICT, MacCAT-T, and SICIATRI-R), and neuropsychological test performance. In the comparisons between patients who, according to the administered EICT, were able or not able to give informed consent to treatment, significant differences emerged for the Phonemic verbal fluency task (p = 0.038), Verbal judgments (p = 0.048), MacCAT-T subscales, and SICIATRI-R total score. Moreover, EICT exhibited excellent internal consistency (Cronbach's alphas ranging from 0.96 to 0.98 for the four subscales) while the Item Analysis, by measuring the correlation between each item of the EICT and the total score, was excellent for all items of all subscales (alphas ranging from 0.86 to 0.98). Discussion: In conclusion, our findings highlighted that the assessment of competence exclusively through clinical judgment is not fully reliable and needs the support of standardized tools. The EICT scale could therefore be useful in assessing general competence to consent both in healthcare and legal contexts, where it might be necessary to evaluate the effective competence of patients with psychiatric disorders. Finally, this scale could serve as a valuable tool for decisions regarding whether and to what extent a patient needs support.
2024
EICT scale; assessment tools; clinical reliability; competence; informed consent; informed consent to treatment scale; mental capacity; schizophrenia
01 Pubblicazione su rivista::01a Articolo in rivista
Reliability of clinical judgment for evaluation of informed consent in mental health settings and the validation of the Evaluation of Informed Consent to Treatment (EICT) scale / Di Fazio, Nicola; Morena, Donato; Piras, Federica; Piras, Fabrizio; Banaj, Nerisa; Delogu, Giuseppe; Damato, Felice; Frati, Paola; Fineschi, Vittorio; Ferracuti, Stefano; Sani, Gabriele; Dacquino, Claudia. - In: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY. - ISSN 1664-1078. - 15:(2024). [10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1309909]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1708127
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