When You Put it That Way...

WHEN YOU BUY A CAR, it’s easier to choose from a list already narrowed by your preferences. If you know you need a vehicle with six seats, excellent fuel economy, and a back-up cam, you don’t even need to enter the lot housing the sports cars.

Why isn’t shared decision-making at the point of care this simple? As much as patients and clinicians should discuss all possible treatment options to make the best choice, research shows that presenting them all at once can overwhelm patients and negatively impact comprehension.

In a study surveying 1,781 breast cancer patients, Group A was presented with four possible treatment plans at once. Group B interacted with the same information in a sequence of two “yes/no” choices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the study found that “women who considered therapy options one at a time had significantly better comprehension of relevant risk information than those who had to consider all options at once.”

This study highlights how breaking a complex decision into a sequence of simple questions can drive patient comprehension. Luckily, it doesn’t require a financial investment or new equipment to present information in a way patients can better understand, it just takes a shift in how we approach the conversation.

Take care.