Informed patients mean productive office visits: study

Kathryn Taylor, an author of JAMA Internal Medicine's study
Kathryn Taylor, an author of JAMA Internal Medicine's study

Adherence and patient health advocates tout the importance of discussions during patient office visits, but professionals and patients often say time constraints get in the way. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that encouraging patients to read up on a topic beforehand could make office visits more productive.

In this instance, the topic was prostate cancer, and the timing is of note because the results follow a June report that men were receiving unnecessary treatments and a July report, published in the August issue of Annals of Family Medicine, that doctors and patients generally did not talk about whether or not to get screened. This means the shared-decision making model that gets a lot of attention was not widely used.

In the JAMA Internal Medicine study, 1,893 men were split into three groups: men who were given printed prostate-cancer screening material, men who used a web-based decision tool and men who received “usual care.” Researchers found that patients who used decision-making aids knew more about prostate cancer and experienced “reduced decisional conflict compared with usual care.”

They also found a short-term impact on patient satisfaction: after a month, 60% of print-materials patients were highly satisfied and 52.2% of web patients were highly satisfied. But 13 months later, things evened out, with 55.7% of print users, 50.4% of web users and 49.8% of “usual care” users saying they were highly satisfied with their experience.