The use of e-consent in surgery and application to neurosurgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis.



The integration of novel electronic informed consent platforms in healthcare has undergone significant growth over the last decade. Adoption of uniform, accessible, and robust electronic online consenting applications is likely to enhance the informed consent process and improve the patient experience and has the potential to reduce medico-legal ramifications of inadequate consent. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the utility of novel electronic means of informed consent in surgical patients and discuss its application to neurosurgical cohorts.


A review of randomised controlled trials, non-randomised studies of health interventions, and single group pre-post design studies in accordance with the PRISMA statement. Random effects modelling was used to estimate pooled proportions of study outcomes. Patient satisfaction with the informed consent process and patients' gain in knowledge were compared for electronic technologies versus non-electronic instruments. A sub-group analysis was conducted to compare the utility of electronic technologies in neurosurgical cohorts relative to other surgical patients in the context of patient satisfaction and knowledge gain.


Of 1042 screened abstracts, 63 studies were included: 44 randomised controlled trials (n = 4985), 4 non-randomised studies of health interventions (n = 387), and 15 single group pre-post design studies (n = 872). Meta-analysis showed that electronic technologies significantly enhanced patient satisfaction with the informed consent process (P < 0.00001) and patients' gain in knowledge (P < 0.00001) compared to standard non-electronic practices. Sub-group analysis demonstrated that neurosurgical patient knowledge was significantly enhanced with electronic technologies when compared to other surgical patients (P = 0.009), but there was no difference in patient satisfaction between neurosurgical cohorts and other surgical patients with respect to electronic technologies (P = 0.78).


Novel electronic technologies can enhance patient satisfaction and increase patients' gain in knowledge of their surgical procedures. Electronic patient education tools can significantly enhance patient knowledge for neurosurgical patients. If used appropriately, these modalities can shorten and/or improve the consent discussion, streamlining the surgical process and improving satisfaction for neurosurgical patients.





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Publication Info

Mirza, Asfand Baig, Abbas Khizar Khoja, Fizza Ali, Mustafa El-Sheikh, Ammal Bibi-Shahid, Jandira Trindade, Brett Rocos, Gordan Grahovac, et al. (2023). The use of e-consent in surgery and application to neurosurgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta neurochirurgica, 165(11). pp. 3149–3180. 10.1007/s00701-023-05776-3 Retrieved from

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Brett Rocos

Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I joined the team at Duke University Health from London, UK, where I was a Consultant Adult and Paediatric Spine Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust and Honorary Consultant Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. I completed my surgical training in in the South West of the UK and at the University of Toronto, and am fellowship trained in adult spine surgery, paediatric spine surgery, orthopaedic trauma surgery, research and healthcare management.

I am driven to support patients at every stage of their care, from clinic assessment, through surgery to discharge. Making sure that every person, adult, child, family or friend understands what’s wrong, helping them to choose the right treatment for them, and what the recovery will be like is an important priority.

My research activity focusses on finding effective new treatments for spinal disorders and bringing them to patients. Focusing on spinal deformity, I have led investigations in the UK, Canada and the USA, and I sit on the Global AO Knowledge Forum for Deformity and the Research Grants Committee at the Scoliosis Research Society. I have lectured in North America and Europe about the treatment of spine disorders for the Scoliosis Research Society, Global Spine Congress, AO Spine and Eurospine, and I have worked hard to produce research that improves the care for spine patients wherever they live. Lastly, I review for several orthopaedic journals and I am Deputy Editor of the Bone and Joint 360, a leading publication with a global readership.

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