Patients More Likely to Trust Physicians Who Disclose Bias

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sunita Sah MD PhD Management & Organizations Johnson Graduate School of Management Cornell University

Dr. Sunita Sah

Sunita Sah MD PhD
Management & Organizations
Johnson Graduate School of Management
Cornell University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Dr. Sah: Physicians often recommend the treatment they specialize in, e.g., surgeons are more likely to recommend surgery than non-surgeons. Results from an observational study and a randomized controlled laboratory experiment found that when physicians revealed their bias toward their own specialty, patients were more likely to report increased trust in the physician’s expertise and take the treatment in accordance with the physician’s specialty.   

MedicalResearch.com: What readers take away from your report? 

Dr. Sah: Professional advisors and policy makers should fully understand the potential consequences of implementing disclosures. Consumers should be aware of their reactions to disclosures and seek second opinions.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Sah: Future research could examine the effect of disclosing bias from alternative sources rather than directly from the physician, alternatives to disclosing bias in any form, and the benefit of seeking second opinions.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Dr. Sah: Disclosing bias may also have changed the behavior of the physicians. Those physicians who disclosed a potential bias towards their specialty also gave stronger recommendations to the patient to take their treatment.

Citation:

Sunita Sah, Angela Fagerlin, Peter Ubel. Effect of physician disclosure of specialty bias on patient trust and treatment choice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016; 201604908 DOI:10.1073/pnas.1604908113

 

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