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Consumers Not Sold on Evidence-Based Medicine

In the minds of many consumers, evidence-based medicine isn't all it's cracked up to be. According to a study published in Health Affairs, misconceptions and a lack of knowledge are preventing many Americans from embracing the concept.

In the minds of many consumers, evidence-based medicine isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. According to a study published in Health Affairs, misconceptions and a lack of knowledge are preventing many Americans from embracing the concept.

The study, which was based on focus groups, interviews and an online survey of 1,500 people with employer-sponsored health insurance, “demonstrated that there are critical gaps in consumer knowledge that challenge ongoing efforts to encourage consumers to use evidence-based health care," said Kristin L. Carman, one of the authors.

According to the findings, consumers believe that medical guidelines are inflexible, with many participants noting that they prefer to trust their own and their physicians’ judgments about quality, and that relying on clinical practice guidelines is too rigid.

The study also found that consumers place value on care that is newer and more costly; 33% agreed that “medical treatments that work the best usually cost more than treatments that don't work as well,” and 47% of respondents said they felt it is reasonable to pay less out of pocket for the most effective treatments and drugs.

In terms of taking care into their own hands, the majority (55%) of respondents said they never took notes during medical appointments, and 28% said they never prepared questions in advance to ask their doctors.

The findings, however, “also indicate some cause for optimism,” according to Carman, who says, “a small but significant minority of our respondents accepts the underlying concepts of evidence-based health care and wants to assume a more informed and active role in their health care decision-making.”