Changing Consumers’ Views on Limiting Patient and Doctor Choice

The public is deeply skeptical about limiting patient choice and physician autonomy regardless of the medical evidence, according to a study by the Center for Patient and Consumer Engagement published in the April issue of Health Affairs. Most people believe that clinicians should be free to depart from guidelines or evidence in individual situations.

Many equate clinical evidence with a doctor’s experience and clinical judgment rather than with clinical research. However, when people learn about medical evidence, they give more weight to it. For example, study participants were more willing to limit patient choice and physician autonomy when they learned about and discussed the threats of antibiotic resistance. Nonetheless, 25% continued to believe that physicians should have unfettered freedom to provide treatments that research shows won’t work. However, people don’t necessarily believe others should have to pay for such treatments.

Last Updated 01/19/2022

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