Making the cut: Evidence-based lessons for improving the informed consent process for voluntary medical male circumcision in Swaziland and Zambia

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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The informed consent (IC) process for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) was evaluated in Zambia and Swaziland as VMMC programs scaled up. In-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted with clients 1 week after surgery to explore understanding of IC and gauge how expectations of MC surgery compared to actual experiences. In Zambia, key opinion leaders (KOLs) were also interviewed. Some clients equated written IC with releasing the clinic from liability. Most clients felt well prepared for the procedure, although many were surprised by the level of pain experienced during anesthesia and postsurgery. Clients were highly motivated to adhere to wound care, but some were overwhelmed by extensive instructions. Adolescents described barriers to accessing follow-up care and the need for support in overcoming adult gatekeepers. KOLs indicated that IC is not well understood in poorly educated communities. Results led to concrete programmatic changes, including revised patient education materials and more effective anesthesia for longer-lasting pain relief.