A research study conducted in Europe suggests that patients over estimate the benefits and underestimate the risks of medical procedures.(1)
The research involved simulating a doctor’s recommendation that a certain procedure be performed. Respondents were then given a lengthy explanation of the benefits and risks associated with the procedure. They were they asked to “play back” their understanding of the procedure and the potential benefits and risks associated with it.
The patients tended to minimize the risks. The doctor’s recommendation was key. If the doctor recommended it, the procedure was clearly the right thing to do.
The drawback, as I’ve noted in other posts, is that many doctors aren’t current on the latest information in their field of practice. (Just ask your PCP what he or she knows about Intermittent Fasting, if you want to be amused.) Thus the recommendations they make may not be on target.
Second opinions on anything important are essential.
- Yaniv Hanoch, Jonathan Rolison, Alexandra M. Freund. Reaping the Benefits and Avoiding the Risks: Unrealistic Optimism in the Health Domain. Risk Analysis, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/risa.13204
- University of Plymouth. “People overestimate benefits, and underestimate risks, of medical interventions.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181025113221.htm>.