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J Health Psychol. 2001 Mar;6(2):191-203. doi: 10.1177/135910530100600208.

Do Patients Want Control over their Own Health Care? A Review of Measures, Findings, and Research Issues.

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Virginia Commonwealth University, USA.


Across a wide variety of medical settings, patients report that they want detailed information about their condition and their treatment whereas stated desire for input into decision making is skewed more in the direction of physician-only or at least collaborative decision-making. These results, along with the contextual and individual difference factors associated with increased willingness to relinquish control (lower educational level, more serious illness, increasing age), indicate that patients want to assume control if they feel it will be beneficial to them to do so. The findings, however, are based largely on the relationship of patients' mean scores to arbitrarily determined scale midpoints on measures with little or no criterion-related validity. These measures also show insufficient overlap with better validated measures of desire for health care control, which indicate more normally distributed scores and a broader range of individual differences among respondents. Findings are discussed in terms of the need for further research on the structure (dimensionality) and stability of the construct desire for health care control and issues involved in conducting needed criterion-related validational work.


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