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Patient Educ Couns. 2005 Jan;56(1):116-24.

Unwanted control: how patients in the primary care setting decide about screening for prostate cancer.

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Department of Family Practice, Virginia Commonwealth University, 3712 Charles Stewart Drive, Fairfax, VA 22033, USA.


Current guidelines recommend shared decision-making to determine whether the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test should be performed. At a large family medicine practice in suburban Washington, DC, we administered a sequence of patient and physician surveys to examine the desired and actual level of patient control over PSA screening decisions and the circumstances in which they occur. Both before and after visits, patients expressed a preference for a shared approach to the PSA decision, but the actual decision involved a significant shift toward greater patient control. Almost 25% of patients reported greater decisional control than they desired. Fully 30% of the men who wanted a shared approach made the actual decision themselves. Patients prefer a shared approach to the PSA decision but report greater personal control when the decision is actually made. Further research is needed to understand this phenomenon and to better accommodate patients' desire for shared decision-making.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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