Originally published December 10 2009
Patients choose alternative therapies when granted more personal responsibility by doctors
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) The December issue of Arthritis Care & Research contains a study showing that, when given the option to choose an alternate treatment, patients are more likely to refuse high-risk treatments recommended to them and pursue something else. Patients are more willing to take personal responsibility in making important medical decisions when their doctors give them the opportunity to consider other options.
Shared decision making (SDM) is a term used to describe the doctor-patient interaction in which both parties exchange information and decide jointly which course of treatment to take. A relatively recent concept, SDM has been shown in prior studies to help lower the number of high-risk treatments given to patients.
In this study, Liana Fraenkel, M.D., M.P.H., from the Yale University School of Medicine, and Ellen Peters, Ph.D., from Decision Research, conducted a focus group of 216 people that evaluated how patients arrive at medical decisions. What researchers found was that, when given choices, participants tended to be more wary of the negative side effects associated with a proposed risky treatment. Participants' willingness to accept treatment was greatly reduced when given the opportunity to be included in making the decision.
Researchers who conducted the study had the goal in mind to highlight the importance of patient involvement in the decision-making process. Rather than doctors simply prescribing a potentially dangerous therapy with no questions asked, patients should be encouraged to participate in making these important medical decisions. Dr. Frankael believes that in doing so, the number of risky procedures undertaken will be greatly reduced.
Comments by Mike Adams, the Health RangerThe really interesting part about this study is that it shows patients refusing more interventionist medical treatments (the more expensive treatments) when doctors include them in the decision process. This is perhaps why doctors tend to dominate the decision-making process and simply order patients what to do: Giving patients options results in lost business!
Most patients are remarkably gullible when it comes to making crucial decisions about medical procedures. By default, most people simply give in to whatever their doctor recommends, even if such a course of action may be more aligned with the financial interests of the doctor than the long-term health interests of the patient. While this study shows that patients tend to shun risky medical procedures when given the option, most patients are never given that option! They're usually subjected to scare tactics, such as when a cancer doctor says, "If you don't get chemotherapy starting right now, you'll be dead in six months."
This is a very unhealthy approach to doctor-patient communication, yet it's the status quo in the cancer industry today. Giving patients options causes a loss of business for doctors promoting expensive, complex procedures such as surgeries or chemotherapy, so it's not in the financial interests of those doctors to ask patients for their opinions in the first place.
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