Navigation Links
Doctors need to help patients prepare better for health decisions

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Twelve years ago, then 28-year-old graduate student Brian Zikmund-Fisher was forced into the toughest choice of his life: Die from a blood disorder within a few years or endure a bone marrow transplant that could cure him or kill him in weeks.

Zikmund-Fisher, now an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health specializing in health communication, chose to gamble. After nine months of blood transfusions, a bone marrow match was found in Australia. Zikmund-Fisher spent another month in isolation until his new immune system began working.

"That experience taught me how to be a well-informed patient," said Zikmund-Fisher, who studies medical decision making because of his own experience. "Unfortunately, today many patients don't learn what they need to in order to make informed medical decisions."

To document the challenges patients face in deciding their own medical care, Zikmund-Fisher and Mick Couper, a research professor in survey methodology at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), led a national survey of medical decisions featured this month in a themed issue of the journal Medical Decision Making. The study, which was carried out by ISR's Survey Research Center, surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. adults about nine common medical decisions and concluded that the majority of patients don't have sufficient information to make the best decisions.

"I want to raise the awareness of how important medical decision making is in the lives of all Americans and how unprepared most people are to make these decisions," said Zikmund-Fisher, also an assistant professor in Internal Medicine at the U-M Health System. "I see this as a public health issue."

Some of the key findings:

  • Patients don't always learn about why not to have a procedure or medication. For example, only 20 percent of patients considering breast cancer screening and 49 percent of patients considering blood pressure medications reported hearing about the cons of those actions.

  • Healthcare providers don't always ask patients what they want to do. For instance only 50 percent of patients deciding about cholesterol medications reported being asked whether they wanted them.

  • Most patients don't use the Internet to help them make common medical decisions, and healthcare professionals remain the most important information source.

  • Patients often don't know as much as they think they do. Many patients feel well informed even when they don't know key facts that could help them make a better decision.

  • African-Americans and Hispanics were less knowledgeable than other patients about medications to treat high cholesterol and more likely to say that their doctor made decisions about cholesterol medications for them.

  • Most patients think they are more likely to get cancer than they are, and tend to think cancer screening tests are more accurate than they are.

  • The study's findings suggest that men and women think about cancer risks differently. Women are more active participants in cancer screening decisions regardless of how at risk they feel, whereas men tended to get involved only if they felt at high risk.

"Informed consent isn't real if patients understand so little about the tests and treatments they are getting," said Dr. Michael Barry, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and president of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, which funded the study.

In fact, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama earlier this year, has many provisions aimed to ensure patients are partners in medical decision making.

These provisions include making patient decision aids for common health care decisions more widely available and promoting their adoption in U.S. health care. Decision aids help clinicians inform patients about their options and help patients ensure that their preferences are respected.

The decision study focused on describing how Americans make everyday medical decisions and didn't try to determine what patients should do to get more information from doctors or other sources, Zikmund-Fisher said. However, some obvious themes emerged.

"Recognize that you have a right to be involved in your own medical care. If your doctor only tells you why you should do something and doesn't discuss reasons why you might not do it, ask for that information anyway," Zikmund-Fisher said. "Don't think of it as medical care. Think of it as your care."


Contact: Laura Bailey
University of Michigan

Related medicine news :

1. Study: Doctors overprescribe antibiotics for respiratory infections
2. Doctors Religious Beliefs Can Color Their Care of Terminally Ill
3. When Doctors Admit Mistakes, Fewer Malpractice Suits Result, Study Says
4. Primary care doctors get little information about chronic sinusitis
5. Doctors hard to find for patients in Massachusetts first for-profit health plan
6. Foreign-Trained Doctors As Good As U.S.-Trained Counterparts
7. Doctors, Patients Rarely on Same Page
8. Doctors dont get their patients
9. Doctors and Medical Groups Increasingly Embrace Physician Marketing to Counter Changes in Health Care
10. HCL Supports Reform of Language Testing for International Doctors
11. DrFinders Releases Searchable Online Directory of Doctors for All Medical Needs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... The successful ... emerging pharmaceutical company. Because it is so important to this key industry segment, Regis ... in your IND Filing” on December 4th at 11am EST. , Federal law does ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... of DataTrade Solutions Inc., a Healthcare IT consulting, development and support company. The ... and technical experience available within DataTrade to extend the services currently provided by ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... GKhair & Tibolli team members and ... Beauty Show held on November 8th and 9th at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, ... artists, renowned beauticians and top of the line fashion journalists. The San Juan Beauty ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... Innovaacom, a leading provider of medical ... survey of educational needs for pharmacists worldwide. The poll of pharmacists in Europe, ... quality online and face-to-face education for pharmacists who are fast becoming the new ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Burnsville MN (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 ... ... addition of a new product dealer. Joining more than 30 HealthPostures’ dealers located ... its foot space and increase the number of corporate, industrial, manufacturing and government ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015 Next week, ... Designers of Things (DoT ) co-located events covering the ... the Internet of Things, will draw more than 3,000 ... Convention Center. The events, combined show floor ... technologies. --> --> ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... global cell culture market is expected ... bn by 2022 at a CAGR of 7.1% therein. --> ... its 2013 value of US$6.1 bn to US$11.3 bn by 2022 ... Research has announced the release of a new market research study, ... ,Cell Culture Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  IBA Molecular North ... and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals, announced that as of January ... Inc. (Zevacor Pharma). The decision to rebrand the company ... firm as well as its close relationship with Zevacor ... Illinois Health and Science (IHS). Peter ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: