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Funded by National Institutes of Health

Funding Years: 2015-2020

Every day in hospitals across the country, patients with severe stroke and their families are faced with decisions about life-sustaining treatments in the initial hours of admission. These decisions about resuscitation status, invasive treatments, or possible transitions to comfort care are typically made by a surrogate decision- maker due to communication or cognitive deficits in the patient. This surrogate must consider the patient's life goals and values to determine if their loved one would choose on-going intensive treatments where they may survive and yet have long term disabilities, or prioritize comfort and accept the likelihood of an earlier death. Serving as a surrogate decision maker for a patient in the intensive care unit can have long lasting negative consequences. However, almost nothing is known about surrogate decision makers in diverse populations with stroke. Hispanic Americans are now the largest minority group in the US, rapidly growing and aging, with Mexican Americans comprising the largest subgroup. Multiple disparities have been identified in stroke incidence and outcome between Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic Whites, particularly in the use of life- sustaining treatments. Minority populations may be particularly vulnerable to inadequate communication about end-of-life issues due to socioeconomic disadvantage, poor health literacy, and lack of provider empathy and health system strategies to improve communication. However, Mexican American culture includes strong values of family support and religiosity that may have a positive influence on discussions about life-sustaining treatment and adapting to stroke-related disabilities. There is currently a critical gap in understanding the perspectives and outcomes of stroke surrogate decision makers, making it impossible to design interventions to help diverse populations of patients and families through this incredibly trying time.

PI(s): Lewis Morgenstern, Darin Zahuranec

Co-I(s): Lynda Lisabeth, Brisa Sanchez

The novelty of risk and vaccination intentions (May-12)

It's 2009.  Early in the year, a 9-year-old girl from California became the first person with a confirmed case of H1N1 ("swine") influenza in the United States.  Shortly thereafter, the U.S. declared a public health emergency and the World Health Organization declared a phase 6 pandemic (the highest level possible).  By September 2009 a vaccination was developed and was available within a month.

You've been following the news about the H1N1 influenza as developments have unfolded throughout the year, and you feel some concern.  You have been wondering about the risk of coming down with the H1N1 flu yourself and have been thinking about whether you should be vaccinated. 

Jacob Solomon, PhD

Alumni

Dr. Jacob Solomon was a CBSSM Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2015-2017.

Jacob Solomon completed a PhD in Media and Information Studies at Michigan State University in 2015. His research is focused on Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors Engineering where he studies how the design of interactive systems affects users’ behavior. His research merges methods from social sciences with computer and information science to design, build, and evaluate socio-technical systems.

Last Name: 
Solomon

MD vs. WebMD: The Internet in Medical Decisions (Dec-10)

With just a simple search term and a click of the mouse, a person can find a large amount of health information on the Internet. What role does the Internet play in how patients make medical decisions? Does using the Internet as a source for information to help patients make informed decisions vary by health condition? Does the Internet substitute for detailed discussions with a health care provider?

Consider the following:

Imagine that you recently visited your health care provider for an annual physical examination. During the exam your doctor told you that you are at the age where you should start thinking about getting a screening test for colon cancer. In this conversation your health care provider explained some of the reasons why you should get screened. At the end of the visit, you had more information about screening tests for colon cancer but had not yet decided whether or not you wanted to get tested.

As you think about how you would make a decision about whether or not to get screened for colon cancer:
 
How important is your health care provider as a source of information about screening tests for colon cancer?
Not at all important (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) Extremely important
 
Would you use, or have someone else use for you, the Internet to find information on screening tests for colon cancer?
 
  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know
How important is the Internet as a source of information screening tests for colon cancer?
Not at all important (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) Extremely important
 
 
 

How do your answers compare?

In a recent study published in the journal Medical Decision Making, CBSSM investigators Brian Zikmund-FisherMick Couper, and Angela Fagerlin examined Internet use and perceived importance of different sources of information by patients making specific medical decisions.

In this study, US adults aged 40 years and older were asked about how they got information about 9 common medical decisions, including decisions about common prescription medication (for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and depression), cancer-screening tests (for colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer), and elective surgeries (for lower back pain, cataracts, and knee/hip replacement). In addition, they study compared participants' ratings of the Internet as a source of information with their ratings of other sources, such as their health care provider.

So, how did your responses compare to the average adult in this study's population?

Results from this study showed that most patients did not use the Internet to make specific medical decisions like the ones you considered. On average, about 26% of participants made use of the Internet for information to make decisions about colon cancer screening tests and about 47% used it to inform a decision about lower back pain surgery.

Among participants who chose to use the Internet for finding information about specific medical decisions, data show that Internet use varies significantly across different types of medical decisions. Internet users were more likely to use the Internet for information related to elective surgery (36%), such as lower back pain surgery, and prescription medication (32%) than for cancer-screening decisions (22%), such as colon cancer screening.

Another element of this study looked at participants' ratings of different information sources. You are unlike other participants in this study in that you did not consistently rate health care providers as the most important source for information about colon cancer screening and lower back pain surgery. The CBSSM study found that, for both Internet users and nonusers, health care providers were rated highest as a source for information for all 9 decisions studied. Among Internet users, however, the Internet was rated as their 2nd-most important source of information.

The researchers found that Internet use to inform specific medical decisions varied by age ranging from 38% for those aged 40 to 49 years to 14% for those aged 70 years or older. Approximately 33% of 50 to 59 year olds used the Internet to make these medical decisions and 24% for those in the 60 to 69 year age category. This result is consistent with previous research on the demographics of Internet use.

The study authors concluded that the Internet has an impact on people's access to health care information; however, "the data suggest that access is not the same as use, and use for one medical decision does not imply use for all health decisions." In other words, people use the Internet differently depending on the context. The authors end by stating, "Clinicians, health educators, and health policy makers need to be aware that we remain a long way away from having Internet-based information sources universally used by patients to improve and support the process of medical decision making."

For the full text of this article:

Couper M, Singer E, Levin CA, Fowler F, Fagerlin A, Zikmund-Fisher BJ. Use of the internet and ratings of information sources for medical decisions: Results from the DECISIONS survey. Medical Decision Making 2010;30:106S-114S.

 

Funded by the National Institutes of Health

Funding years: 2011-2015

Colorectal cancer has a major impact on Americans, yet its screening rate remains suboptimal. This study aims to improve colorectal cancer screening rate by using an innovative and interactive decision aid that helps patients choose among colorectal cancer screening options. The study will also elucidate how patients and physicians discuss colorectal cancer screening options. for more information visit NIH Reporter.

PI: Masahito Jimbo

Co-I: Sarah Hawley

Press Kit

About CBSSM

CBSSM acts at the premier intellectual gathering place of clinicians, social scientists, bioethicists, and all others interested in improving individual and societal health through scholarship and service.

Schedule an Interview

Members of the media interested in interviewing Center members can call the UMHS Public Relations office at 734-764-2220 between the hours 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, or email us directly at cbssm-mgr@umich.edu

Funded by NIH: National Cancer Institute

Funding Years: 2008-2014

Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among men, and thousands of men must make treatment decisions every year. Decision making for localized prostate cancer is especially challenging as clinical trials have shown that the standard treatment options of active surveillance, surgery and radiation are comparable in terms of survival. Thus, treatment for prostate cancer is a preference-sensitive decision, with the best choice depending in part on patient attitudes towards the risks and benefits of treatment alternatives. Therefore, ideally the treatment decision will be made with full consideration of patient preferences. As such, it is recommended that patients and their physicians discuss any preferences patients have that might be relevant to the treatment decision. This dialogue is complicated by patients’ lack of experience with sharing in these types of decisions. Additionally, physicians often use medical jargon, making it more difficult for patients to understand their diagnosis and treatment options.  Research is needed to determine the best methods for helping patients communicate their preferences to their physicians so that patient values hold considerable weight in treatment decisions.

The goals of this study are two-fold:

  • To demonstrate to patients some of the issues that might arise during their diagnosis visit that may prevent them from communicating preferences to physicians.
  • To provide solutions that would enable greater patient participation in medical decision making.

PI(s): Angela Fagerlin, PhD and Peter A. Ubel, MD

Co-I(s): John T. Wei, MD; Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD; Margaret Holmes-Rovner, PhD; James Tulsky, MD; Stewart Alexander, PhD

Parent grantMichigan Center for Health Communication Research II

Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, gave a talk at the Small Group Meeting on Risk 2.0: Risk Perception and Communication Regarding Vaccination Decisions in the Age of Web 2.0 at Universitat Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany, on May 13, 2011.

Patients’ Attitudes toward Considering Cost When Making Medical Decisions (Oct-13)

Imagine that for the last three months, you have had a very bad headache – the worst in your life – that won’t go away, even when you take aspirin. In addition to the headache you have also been feeling dizzy. Your doctor tells you that you need to get a brain scan to test whether the headache is being caused by something serious. There are two possible scans you can get: a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or a Computerized Axial Tomography (CT) scan.  The MRI provides a slightly more detailed picture and might find something that the CT misses, such as an extremely uncommon blood vessel problem, but nearly all problems serious enough to need treatment would be seen on either the MRI or the CT.

What We Do

RESEARCH

Research has been the focus and the strength of the faculty members affiliated with CBSSM. Researchers have pursued groundbreaking investigations topics such as:

  • doctor-patient communication
  • psychological adaptation to disability
  • health care rationing
  • social cognition
  • decision aids to communicate risk
  • informed consent
  • deliberative democracy

EDUCATION

An important mission of CBSSM is to extend the ethics education medical students receive at the University of Michigan. Our current curriculum efforts are focused on enriching the existing curriculum and on making instruction on medical ethics for undergraduate medical students at UM more systematic and focused. Our goal is to increase medical student interest in ethics and their competence in recognizing and resolving ethical issues. Our strategy is to weave ethics into the curriculum throughout the 4 years of training in a way that allows students to build upon what they know of ethical theory and to apply that knowledge to their clinical practice. Additionally, given CBSSM faculty expertise, our aim is to create novel ethics curriculum components that incorporate our empirical work in bioethics and our particular expertise in decision science. 

POLICY/OUTREACH

CBSSM scholars perform the basic and applied scientific research that will improve health care policy and practice, to benefit patients and their families, health care providers, third-party payers, policy makers, and the general public. In our Decision of the Month web feature, we turn a recent research finding into an interactive decision that a patient or a policy maker might face.

PROGRAM IN CLINICAL ETHICS

The Program in Clinical Ethics within CBSSM represents an expansion of existing services designed to promote a culture of patient-centered excellence by developing a comprehensive set of ethics-related activities.  The aims of this program are to: liaise with and provide support to the adult and pediatrics ethics committees; streamline clinical ethics consultation; assist with ethics-related policy development on a regular and proactive basis; organize and administer structured educational programs in clinical ethics; and coordinate empiric research with relevance to clinical ethics within CBSSM.

 

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