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Med Care. 2008 Sep;46(9 Suppl 1):S23-9. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e31817dc496.

Informed decision-making and colorectal cancer screening: is it occurring in primary care?

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VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.



Current recommendations advise patients to participate in the decision-making for selecting a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening option. The degree to which providers communicate the information necessary to prepare patients for participation in this process is not known.


To assess the level of informed decision-making occurring during actual patient-provider communications on CRC screening and test for the association between informed decision-making and screening behavior.


Observational study of audiotaped clinic visits between patients and their providers in the primary care clinic at a Veterans Administration Medical Center.


Male patients, age 50-74 years, presenting to a primary care visit at the study site.


The Informed Decision-Making (IDM) Model was used to code the audiotapes for 9 elements of communication that should occur to prepare patients for participation in decision-making. The primary outcome is completion of CRC screening during the study period.


The analytic cohort consisted of 91 patients due for CRC screening who had a test ordered at the visit. Six of the 9 IDM elements occurred in < or =20% of the visits with none addressed in > or =50%. CRC screening occurred less frequently for those discussing "pros and cons" (12% vs. 46%, P = 0.01) and "patient preferences" (6% vs. 47%, P = 0.001) compared with those who did not.


We found that a lack of informed decision-making occurred during CRC screening discussions and that particular elements of the process were negatively associated with screening. Further research is needed to better understand the effects of informed decision-making on screening behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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