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Why patient and public engagement is important for tackling overuse
Choosing Wisely campaigns aim to engage physicians and the public in tackling the problem of overuse in medicine.1 Choosing Wisely has been adopted by medical and other clinician societies worldwide, having now spread to approximately 20 countries. While physicians have demonstrated a high degree of interest, engaging patients and building wider public awareness is far more challenging. The belief that more testing and more treatment lead to better outcomes is widespread, and physicians rarely discuss the risks and harms of overuse with patients.2–4 Indeed, there is a marked tendency among both patients and physicians to overestimate the benefits of medical interventions and underestimate harms.5 Further, physicians’ perceptions of the unacceptability to patients of applying Choosing Wisely recommendations appear to be a major barrier towards implementation.6 There is concern that the impact of campaigns will be blunted if patients and the broader public are not receptive to the message of Choosing Wisely. Evidence demonstrates that up to 30% of all medical care adds no value to patients, and in fact can lead to harm.7 Yet, overuse persists as both clinicians and patients are victims of the ‘therapeutic illusion.’8 Choosing Wisely campaigns attempt to tackle this problem through establishing specialty-specific lists of recommendations of ‘Things Clinicians and Patients Should Question.’ A central goal of Choosing Wisely campaigns is to change patient and public knowledge and attitudes, in addition to physician practice, in order to influence the culture of medicine that has driven overuse.1
Patient and public expectations are often cited by physicians as a major cause of overuse, although the extent to whether this is true is unclear.9 The concepts of overdiagnosis, overtreatment and overuse can be confusing for laypeople, yet the consequences are serious to individuals through harm, and to society through diversion …
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