Sunday, September 13, 2009

What Voters Really Think About Evidence-Based Health Care

I want to call you attention to an important survey done by the California-based Campaign for Effective Care. They surveyed California voters on their understanding of evidence-based medicine.

The bad news is that patients think their health care treatment is generally evidence-based even though that assumption is highly questionable. The good news is that patients want it to be evidence-based.

At a time when we hear anecdotal evidence, particularly from town hall meetings, that people don't want any "interference" between them and their doctors they do seem to appreciate the need to get all of the facts when making a treatment decision.

Here is the survey summary. You can access all of it here.
Quick Summary of Evidence-Based Medicine Poll Results

A Summer 2009 Lake Research Partners poll of 800 California voters released by the Campaign for Effective Patient Care brings a fresh perspective to the health care debate raging across the country.

Voter opinions about evidence-based medicine could not be more timely. The under- and over-use ofmedical treatment threatens patients’ well-being and wastes lives and resources. The prestigious Institute of Medicine reports that only about half of doctors’ treatment decisions are based on evidence.

The poll of California voter attitudes offers three important insights for policymakers:

Voters know that medical treatment should be based on solid evidence and they mistakenly believe that most of the care they are receiving is evidence based.
  • Most voters assume that medical decisions are guided by evidence. A larger percentage feels this way about their own treatment than about everyone else’s (65% vs. 51%).
  • 84% of voters are confident that they get the information they need to make informed medical decisions and are overly optimistic about the ability of the current system to put new evidence into practice.
When voters are educated about the failures in our system, they want reform.
  • 79% of voters believe that it is a serious problem when doctors fail to provide necessary treatment; 80% feel it is a serious problem when doctors provide unneeded medical treatment, and; 80% are more likely to support reforms when they learn about failures of the current system.
Voters are astute. They support specific and sensible evidence-based health-care reforms.
  • 88% of voters strongly support ensuring that doctors have access to scientific evidence.
  • 92% of those polled would require doctors to disclose the existence of scientific evidence supporting effective treatment. 90% would require disclosure of the absence of such evidence.
  • Additionally, 72% of voters want health care reform that ensures doctors are paid based on whether their treatment is supported by scientific evidence, and not solely on how much treatment doctors provide.
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