The Emerging Debate over the Shape of Informed Consent: Can the Doctrine Bear the Weight?

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Informed consent has traditionally focused on treatment-related issues. However, since the mid-1990s, courts have debated whether informed consent should be stretched to accommodate other concerns. For example, some courts have considered whether economic limitations on treatment availability must be made known to a patient as part of the informed consent process. Other courts have considered whether characteristics of the treatment provider (e.g., experience with a particular procedure) should be disclosed as part of informed consent. Consideration of these issues turns in large part on whether the information in question would be considered “material” to a decision to accept or reject treatment. This article discusses these developments, and suggests that expanding informed consent beyond treatment-related issues in some circumstances may erode trust in the clinical relationship, thus undermining one of the central values of the informed consent doctrine. It concludes with some suggestions on how research could inform this debate.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, v. 21, issue 1, p. 121-133