Role-Playing and Health Care Decisions
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- When it comes to health care decision-making, what's good for the goose may not be good for the gander.
According to a new study out of the University of Michigan Medical School and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan, people are more likely to opt against a medical treatment when it is for themselves than when it is for someone else.
The research was conducted among four groups of people who were presented with two different scenarios. In the first scenario, participants were asked to choose between receiving and not receiving an experimental vaccine for an influenza pandemic. The second was between receiving or not receiving chemotherapy for a slow-growing cancer.
Researchers asked the first group to make the decisions for themselves. The second group was asked to decide for a child. The third group was asked to respond as if they were a doctor making a decision for a patient, and the fourth as if they were a health care official making the decision for a guideline that would govern the care of many people.
In both scenarios, people were less likely to opt for the treatment if it was for themselves than if it was for someone else, even though having the treatment was the best decision in both cases. The investigators believe such role-playing might help people make better health care decisions.
"If we take a moment, pause and consider the situation from a different angle, then that may help us see all the different pieces of information that are relevant," notes study author Brian Zikmund-Fisher, Ph.D. "If we do that, we may end up making a different choice, but even if we don't, we can be confident that we have made an informed choice."
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SOURCE: Journal of General Internal Medicine, published online May 31, 2006