Aligning Patient-Provider Expectations for Informed Consent

Aligning Patient-Provider Expectations for Informed Consent

Communication for informed consent is vital for patients, families, and providers. Yet, it is often inadequate, resulting in poorly aligned expectations for a surgery, procedure, or course of treatment. The pre-operative encounter represents a particular challenge for surgeons, who often have limited time to establish relationships and trust with patients and families. This can result in misaligned expectations between patients, families, and providers. Such mismatch can lead to frustration, anger, and potentially litigation. 

This course focuses on improving communication and relational skills during the informed consent process to better align provider and family expectations, with a specific focus on surgical informed consent.

Course Format

Build on the pedagogy of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice's successful Program to Enhance Relational and Communication Skills (PERCS), this innovative, self-paced course is structured into five modules that include:

  1. Introduction: From Informed Consent to Aligning Expectations
  2. Parents' and Clinicians' Views on Pediatric Surgical Informed Consent
  3. Further Considerations for Aligning Expectations
  4. A Case Example: Enactment of a Pre-Surgical Conversation
  5. Learning from the Course

The lessons include:

  • Research on why informed consent is problematic for patients, providers, and insurers
  • Differences in expectations for surgical informed consent from the perspectives of experienced patients, families, and providers
  • Realistic enactment of a pre-surgical consultation to align expectations, featuring professional actors and real clinicians
  • Didactics and practical tips on how to better align patient, family, and provider expectations

Statement of Need/Suggested Audience

Inadequate communication during the informed consent process can lead to surgeons, patients, and families having misaligned expectations. A surgical outcome that is perceived as successful by the physician may be experienced as a failure by the patient and family. Misaligned expectations of surgery can result in frustration, anger, and potentially litigation. This course aims to support clinicians to be better prepared to align expectations with patients and families during the informed consent process. 

This training is helpful for:

Physicians, nurses, and other providers who work closely with patients and their families during informed consent for surgery and more broadly. 

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, learners will:

  • Articulate patient, family, and provider perspectives regarding the importance of enhanced communication around informed consent
  • Explain the distinction between informed consent as a form to be completed and a process for aligning expectations
  • Utilize strategies for aligning expectations to enhance the effectiveness of informed consent practices

Course Directors

  • Donna Luff, PhD
  • Craig Lillehei, MD
  • Elaine C. Meyer, RN, PhD


Dr. Luke Sato; Dr. Melissa Cousino; Ms.  Ms. Cohen-Bearak; Aimee Williamson; Ms. Lisa Burgess; Ms. Valerie Fleischman; Dr. Craig Lillehei, Dr. David Diamond; Dr. Scellig Stone; Ms. Tish Reidy, Ms. Rosella Micalizzi, Ms. Ellen O'Donnell; Dr. Terry Buchmiller; Ms. Katherine South; Ms. Frances South; Dr. Lauren Mednick; Dr. Viviane Nasr; Mr. Tyson Ortiz; Dr. Elaine Meyer

Release Date

  • Released: September 25, 2017.