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J Gen Intern Med. 2000 Sep;15(9):632-7.

Perceptions of benefit and risk of patients undergoing first-time elective percutaneous coronary revascularization.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD 20889, USA.



To assess reasons why patients undergo elective percutaneous coronary revascularization (PCR), patient expectations of the benefits of PCR, and their understanding of the risks associated with PCR. We hypothesized that patients overestimate the benefits and underestimate the risks associated with PCR.


A prospective, semistructured questionnaire.


Patients undergoing their first elective PCR.


Fifty-two consecutive patients with a mean age of 64.3 years (range 39-87) completed the interview. Although 30 (57%) patients cited relief of symptoms as at least 1 reason to have PCR, 32 (62%) patients cited either an abnormal diagnostic test result (i.e., exercise stress test or catheterization) or "pathophysiologic" problem (i.e., "I have a blockage"), with 17 patients (33%) citing these reasons alone as indications for PCR. Thirty-nine (75%) patients believed PCR would prevent a future myocardial infarction, and 37 (71%) patients felt PCR would prolong their life. Regarding the potential complications, only 24 patients (46%) could recall at least 1 possible complication. However, on a Deber questionnaire, the majority of patients (67%) stated that they should determine either mostly alone or equally with a physician how acceptable the risks of the procedure are for themselves.


The majority of patients had unrealistic expectations about the long-term benefits of elective PCR and was not aware of the potential risks, even though they expressed a strong interest in participating in the decision to have PCR. More work is needed to define the optimal strategy to educate patients about the benefits and risks of elective PCR, and whether such education will affect patient decision making.

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