Empirical Study: Discussion
In this chapter, we discuss some of the more interesting and important aspects of our findings in both the descriptive and inferential data sections. Our most basic hypothesis was that the results would show considerable variability. We so hypothesized because there are pressures on both sides in the context of informed consent—pressures pulling toward and pulling against giving informed consent. This hypothesis was amply confirmed. Our further hypothesis was that these pressures would result in ambivalence in individual analysts. That is, each analyst may have felt both pressures. (The alternative is that roughly half felt unambivalently in favor of one side of the dilemma and half in favor of the other.) The ambivalence hypothesis seems to be borne out when we look at analyst endorsement of conflicting items.
We turn to a discussion of individual findings now.
In terms of Q1, the rate of giving an informed consent, we saw considerable variability: 39% Always do, 23.7% Never do, and 57.6% do so At Least Frequently. It may be that this variability reflects conflicting pressures—concerns about law and ethics on the one side, and therapeutic effect on the other. On the other hand, the variability could also be attributed to some respondents being very rights-focused, and others very therapy-focused. We have more to say about this later.
In terms of Q2, the rate at which subjects were given an informed consent, we saw a very low rate—4.9%. The fact that our subjects were older and the relative newness of informed consent may explain this result.