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Evidence-Based Medicine: Do Patients Understand It?

Doctors trying to help patients understand a course of treatment must teach them new terms such as “medical evidence,” “quality guidelines” and “quality standards.” Patients might not be willing to accept that language lesson.

A study in Health Affairs concluded that 41 percent of patients didn’t ask questions or tell doctors about problems. The main barriers were that patients didn’t know how to talk to doctors, or their physicians seemed rushed. Only 34 percent of patients recalled physicians discussing medical research in relation to care management.

But, physicians say, that’s only half the problem. Sometimes, patients demand to see specialists when they don’t really need to. Or, they don’t accept it when evidence shows that highly-desired treatments aren’t the best ones for care. One reason may be that one in three patients believe that more expensive treatments work better than less expensive ones, according to the study in Health Affairs. Once the evidence is laid out, it can be a delicate negotiation to get patients to accept that. (American Medical News, Health Affairs, RangelMD, KevinMD)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*


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One Response to “Evidence-Based Medicine: Do Patients Understand It?”

  1. Mary Andrawis says:

    I think there’s another facet to this problem of patients understanding of evidence-based medicine: even within the field of medicine, there is disagreement, confusion, and nonagreement on the role of evidence in medicine. I was just thinking about this last week and blogged on the topic (http://ashpblog.squarespace.com/blog/2010/6/17/the-two-headed-beast-the-art-versus-science-of-medicine.html )

    Maybe once the medical field agrees on what the role of evidence versus ‘art’ or individual intellect is in taking care of our patients, we can then help patients understand.

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