30 Aug Most Physicians Overestimate Efficacy of Common Treatments
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Daniel J. Morgan M.D., M.S
Epidemiology & Public Health
University of Maryland School of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Physicians are generally taught if a treatment is indicated, not how well the treatment works. Although this has been part of evidence based medical training, doctors still perform poorly with ability to understand risk and how treatment limits risk (Bayesian reasoning). Many publications focus on relative risk reduction which inflates the perception of an effect over the more accurate absolute risk reduction.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We surveyed physicians over two medical centers and found <25% could accurately identify treatment effect (chance of a treatment helping a patient) for common treatments and many estimated treatments were 2-10 times as effective as reality. Most preventive treatments benefit 1-5% of patients over a few years. Doctor estimates of treatment effects appear to confuse relative risk reduction with absolute risk reduction.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Doctors don’t routinely think about how effective a treatment may be but generally only if it may be indicated. Most significantly overestimate the effects of treatment which likely leads to overtreatment. Physician inability to explain treatment effects limits ability to participate in shared decision making with patients.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Larger studies asking the same questions need to be done. We need to know if those doctors who overestimate effects tend to more strongly recommend treatment. We need interventions to teach doctors Bayesian reasoning.
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Last Updated on August 30, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD