Good eggs? Evaluating consent forms for egg donation

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Abstract

Beyond gaps in the provision of information, the informed consent process for egg donation is complicated by conflicts of interest, payment and a lack of longitudinal data about physiological and psychological risks. Recent scholarship has suggested that egg donation programmes could improve the informed consent process by revising consent documents. At a minimum, these documents should include information about eight key criteria: the nature and objectives of treatment; the benefits, risks and inconveniences of egg donation; the privacy of donors and their anonymity (where applicable); disclosure that participation is voluntary (withdrawal); the availability of counselling; financial considerations; the possibility of an unsuccessful cycle and potential uses of the eggs retrieved. This study evaluates the incorporation of these minimum criteria in consent forms for egg donation, obtained through requests to Canadian fertility clinics. Even when clinics were considered to have met criteria simply by mentioning them, among the eight consent forms assessed, none met the minimum standards. Only half of clinics addressed privacy/anonymity concerns, financial issues and the possibility of a future cycle. Improving the quality of consent documentation to meet the minimum standards established by this study may not be an onerous task. For some, this will include re-evaluating how they include one or two elements of disclosure, and for others, this will require a substantial overhaul. Using the criteria provided by this study as the minimum standard for consent could ensure that donors have the basic information they need to make informed decisions.

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