Docs ignore patients in care decisions despite wishes

Although not always carried out in hospitals, patients want to be more involved in the decision-making process of their care and can fare better, according to an editorial in the Guardian.

Forty-eight percent of patients want to be more involved in treatment decisions, according to a white paper from healthcare advocacy group The King's Fund. However, the recent survey of American and British physicians showed that most clinicians think patients' primary function was to follow medical advice; doctors were less likely to endorse patient involvement in care decisions about treatment, risk, and costs of services, according to the editorial. Although patients seem to value the opportunity to make their own care decisions, clinicians cited reasons, including not having enough time, low patient interest, and patients desiring costly treatment, as reasons not to involve them heavily.

The white paper called for physicians to change their attitudes and encourage patients to become active participants in their care rather than passive recipients of medical treatment, especially for screening and diagnostic tests, medical or surgical procedures, management education or psychological intervention, medications, and lifestyle changes, according to the report.

The patients that benefited the most from decision involvement were those with long-term conditions, indicating that they had more autonomy and better outcomes.

Patient engagement may become increasingly important in managing care outside the hospital with reimbursements closely tied to readmissions and chronic conditions.

For more information:
- read the Guardian editorial
- check out the report

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