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Views and approaches toward risks and benefits among doctors who become patients

Klitzman, Robert L.

Objective: To understand how views and approaches concerning risks and benefits may be affected by dynamic contexts and processes related to clinical roles and relationships.

Methods: We conducted two in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 50 doctors who became patients due to serious illnesses, concerning their experiences before and after diagnosis.

Results: As patients, these doctors gained critical new insights into the processes and contexts of communication about risks and benefits. Doctors and patients often varied in how they viewed and weighed risks and benefits (e.g., as “good’ or “bad”). These data suggest a model in which patients undergo several dynamic processes: seeking statistics, accepting doctors’ framing of statistics, being influenced by media hype, seeing statistics as relevant or not, over-valuing risks, weighing the importance of risks and benefits, interpreting statistics as good or bad, accepting or denying statistics and odds, and making treatment decisions. These processes are affected by external factors (e.g., doctors ordering tests, framing statistics, and often over- versus under-valuing risks), and internal factors (e.g., depression, denial of illness, optimism versus pessimism, magical thinking – that doctors are immune to disease – and rationalizations).

Conclusions: Doctors and patients are engaged in complex, dynamic processes that shape patients’ approaches toward risks and benefits.

Practice Implications: These data highlight the need for increased attention toward these issues in medical educational and care.

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Also Published In

Title
Patient Education and Counseling
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2005.11.013

More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychiatry
Published Here
June 5, 2020