Medical Treatments: Advantages Touted Over Risks, Survey Finds

Patients in the United States may not be as informed about their medical options as they should be, a new national survey shows.

Researchers looked at what patients had to say about discussions they had with their physicians regarding 10 common medical procedures over the past two years. Results showed that patients reported more discussion of the benefits of the treatments than the drawbacks.

The findings also showed that 60 percent of patients were not asked for their input when it came to decisions about whether to have mammograms, and whether to take medications for hypertension and high cholesterol, according to the study.

Proponents of informed medical decision-making and patient-centered medicine say that shared decision-making is needed for good medical care. Previous surveys had similarly shown that patients making common medical decisions were often poorly informed.

The survey included about 3,000 patients ages 40 and older.

Overall, the results showed that discussions regarding surgical procedures, such as back and knee surgery, tended to be more balanced (with pros and cons fairly discussed) than those regarding medications to reduce heart disease risks and cancer screening.

The study was published online May 27 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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