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Psychological Science explains uproar over prostate-cancer screenings
Date:5/22/2012

nd that treatment to others, even if there was evidence showing the treatment only works for a minority of people.

Arkes and Gaismaier also propose that the public may have recoiled against the task force's recommendations so fiercely because they weren't able to properly evaluate the data in the report. Confusion over the use of control groups may have led people in the general public to weigh the data differently than medical professionals did.

"How to change this is the million-dollar question," said Arkes. "Pictorial displays are far easier to comprehend than statistics. The two figures in our article depict the situation more clearly than text and numbers can do. I think data displayed in this manner can help change people's view of the PSA test because we compare the relative outcomes of being tested and not being tested. Without that comparison, it is tough for the public to appreciate the relative pluses and minuses of the PSA test versus not having the PSA test."

Men will be able to continue to request the PSA test, and it will be covered by health insurance for the foreseeable future. But psychological science suggests that unless people are convinced to choose statistics over anecdotes, confusion surrounding the test's effectiveness will linger.


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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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