Navigation Links
Putting risk in perspective: Do people make better decisions when they understand average risk?
Date:12/13/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. If there were a pill that would cut your risk of breast cancer in half, would you take it" What if you were told your risk of breast cancer was already below average"

In a newly published survey, women who were told their risk of breast cancer was above average were more likely to endorse taking the hypothetical pill than women who were told their risk was below average. The above average group was also more likely to believe that the pill significantly reduced breast cancer risk even though both groups were told the pill would cut their risk of breast cancer in half.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center surveyed 249 random women in a hospital cafeteria. Participants were given a scenario in which their own risk of breast cancer was 6 percent. Then, half of the women were told the average womans risk of breast cancer was 12 percent; the other half were told the average risk was 3 percent.

Both groups were told in the hypothetical scenario that there was a pill that would reduce their breast cancer risk to 3 percent, but it caused side effects including hot flashes in most women, with a small risk of cataracts, stroke or heart attack. They were then asked to say if they would take the pill, given their risk of breast cancer.

No matter what their decision, 62 percent of the women said the average risk information was helpful in making a decision about whether to take the drug.

But, the study authors contend, this influence could be dangerous. After all, if a prevention strategy reduces a persons risk by half, does it matter if others receive more or less benefit"

Whats really important is to focus on your risk and the benefits you could get from a treatment. Knowing how ones own risk compared to the average womans risk actually changed peoples decisions. Its very worrisome that this piece of information had an influential impact on a womans perceptions of a breast cancer prevention drug, says study author Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., research assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and an investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Results of the study appear in the December issue of Patient Education and Counseling.

The study authors argue that comparing individual risk against average could lead people to make poor decisions. For example, below-average risk does not mean zero risk, yet low-risk women might think they can skip their yearly mammogram. On the other hand, women at high-risk might undergo risky treatments that they might otherwise not have chosen.

When you give women their five-year risk of breast cancer, it might be 3 percent, and that 3 percent seems really low. But the way women tend to use comparative information is worrisome. Theyre focusing too much on where they stack up against average and they disregard their own individual risk information what that risk means to them, says Fagerlin, a member of the U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine.

The study authors urge doctors and health educators to use average risk carefully when discussing individual patients options.

People should focus on what their own risk is how does that risk feel to them, and what do they think of their treatment or prevention strategies. We believe that when making a medical decision, people should consider the risks and benefits of their prevention or treatment options and they should make the best decision based on their perceptions of those risks and benefits. The decision should not be influenced by whether their risks or benefits are greater or less than another person, Fagerlin says.

The risk estimates used in the study were fictitious. The drug mentioned is modeled after tamoxifen, which can be given to women at high risk of breast cancer to help prevent the disease. The average womans lifetime risk of breast cancer is 12.7 percent, or one in eight. But an individuals five-year risk of breast cancer will vary based on family history, environmental exposures and lifestyle issues. Some 178,480 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and more than 40,000 will die from the disease.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcettt@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. AUDIO from Medialink and P&G: Putting Your Smile in Hollywoods Spotlight
2. UCLA researchers identify markers that may predict diabetes in still-healthy people
3. Are too many people diagnosed as depressed?
4. Bipolar Diagnoses in Younger People Show Huge Increase
5. Preparation for Natural Disasters Critical for People With Diabetes, Chronic Medical Conditions
6. Drug-free treatments offer hope for older people in pain
7. Wanting a bite of everything: Hungry people crave more variety
8. Academy releases emergency preparedness tools to enable millions more people to shelter in place
9. Different HIV rates among gay men and straight people not fully explained by sexual behavior
10. Peoples United Financial CEO Has Surgery
11. The American Pain Foundation (APF) and The HealthCentral Network Collaborate to Develop Enhanced Internet Resources for People with Pain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/13/2016)... ... February 13, 2016 , ... ... (INS) states that vein visualization technology should be used to ensure patient safety ... the world, the INS Standards mandate the use of vein visualization technology in ...
(Date:2/13/2016)... , ... February 13, 2016 , ... When an Au Pair comes all ... sure what they are in for and they are often worried things won’t go well. ... were hoping for. This year’s Au Pair of the Year winner’s all commented how their ...
(Date:2/13/2016)... ... February 13, 2016 , ... DDi , a ... Providers list for its expertise in eClinical Solutions. DDi has built its solution ... technology needs of global clients. DDi provides smarter technology for Clinical Development, Regulatory ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Mystic Buddha Publishing House presents Valentine’s Day tips ... biography of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz. , According to Publisher Roger ... Buddhist teacher for teaching and helping others. Valentine’s Day celebrates love in all ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... Seattle, WA, and Washington, DC (PRWEB) , ... ... ... PATH and the Siemens Foundation today announced a new initiative—the Siemens ... technologies for low-resource settings. The partnership will recruit top students from U.S. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)...  This month,s issue of the Journal of ... in-depth look at various causes and consequences associated with rising health ... which has generated significant public outrage and calls for ... E. Happe , PharmD, MPH. --> JMCP ... --> In 2014 prescription drug spending in ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: DPLO ) is pleased to announce the promotion of Paul ... Jan. 23, 2016. To learn more about ... ... ... In his ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - Demers Ambulances announces its first delivery in ... Okaloosa County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) consisting ... one LT2 van. Quality Emergency Vehicles in Lecanto, ... the sale.  This is the latest in Demers, ongoing expansion ... President at Demers. --> Benoit LaFortune , Executive ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: