Dr. Montas is a Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Montas holds a law and medical degrees from the University of Michigan and a Master of Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a member of the University of Michigan Adult Ethics Committee since 2009. His research interest is in the intersection of Law and Medicine, and Bioethics, with a focus on the influence of the legal system and legal norms on patient-physician communication and decision making.
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Julie Wright Nunes is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Department of Internal Medicine. Her research interests include Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and its prevention and also the development of methods and tools to help facilitate and optimize provider-directed CKD patient education.
Interim Co-Director Brian Zikmund-Fisher was featured in “Medicine at Michigan.” Brian shared his personal experience with risk and probability in medical decision making. This experience provided him with the personal career goal of improving patients’ lives by making health information easier to understand.
This is the first featured story in the new section “Gray Matters,” which gives our faculty members the opportunity to write about complex issues in medicine, such as ethics and decision-making.
Tolu joined CBSSM in September 2012 as a graduate work study student then transitioned into a full-time Research Area Specialist Associate from August 2015 to May 2017. She received her joint Master’s in Social Work and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. The bulk of her work at CBSSM includes assisting Dr. Susan Goold on an evaluation of the Healthy Michigan Plan (Michigan’s Medicaid Expansion).
Funded by Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making
Funding Years: 2007 -2008
The National Survey of Medical Decisions (the DECISIONS study), co-led by CBDSM investigators Mick Couper (PI) and Brian Zikmund-Fisher (co-I), is a unique effort to collect nationally representative data about when and how middle-aged and older adults manage the medical decisions they face.
The DECISIONS study consisted of a random digit dial telephone survey of 3,010 adults over the age of 40 in the United States conducted between November 2006 and May 2007. Participants were asked a series of screening questions to identify which of 10 common medical decisions they may have discussed with their health care providers in the previous two years and then completed 2-3 question modules regarding specific decisions that were relevant to each individual.
Its initial screening module gathered highly generalizeable data regarding the prevalence of different types of common medical decisions in the experience of older Americans. Its dynamically-administered modules then requested detailed information regarding how and when patients discuss key medical decisions with their health care providers and whether variations in decision-making processes may have influenced patients’ medical care.
Funded by the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (FIMDM), the DECISIONS project has been a highly collaborative project that has included investigators from Institute for Social Research and FIMDM, as well as CBDSM. In addition, FIMDM-affiliated researchers from around the country are analyzing DECISIONS data to inform their research. While the initial papers from the DECISIONS dataset will be by core investigators, the study team intends to make the dataset publicly available for more widespread use sometime in 2009.
Mick Couper (PI)
Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, is the featured guest editor for a special supplement to Medical Decision Making's September/October 2010 issue, highlighting the DECISIONS study, a nationwide survey of adults in the US regarding common medical decisions. Lead author on the main paper of the supplement, Zikmund-Fisher and co-authors (including CBSSM faculty Angela Fagerlin, PhD and Mick Couper, PhD) describe the DECISIONS study, a telephone interview of a nationally representative sample of 3010 adults age 40 and over faced with making a medical decision in the past two years. Researchers defined medical decisions as the patient having initiated medications, been screened, or had surgery within the past 2 years or having discussed these actions with a health care provider during the same interval. Key findings from the study:
Although patients frequently receive information about the benefits of a procedure or medication, they don't always learn about the disadvantages.
Healthcare providers don't always ask patients what they want to do.
Most patients don't use the Internet to help them make common medical decisions; healthcare professionals remain the most important source of information.
Patients often don't know as much as they think they do. Many patients feel well informed even when they don't know key facts that would help them make a better decision.
African-Americans and Hispanics were less knowledgeable than other patients about medications to treat high cholesterol. In addition, they were more likely to say their doctor made decisions about cholesterol medications for them.
Most patients think they are more likely to get cancer than they really are, and tend to view cancer screenings as more accurate than they are.
Men and women think about cancer risks differently. Women are more active participants in cancer screening decisions regardless of their perception of risk, whereas men tended to get involved only if they felt at higher risk.
Funded by: NIH
Funding Years: 2016-2020
In the past 30 years, the Incidence of thyroid cancer has tripled. The majority of the rise in thyroid cancer incidence is attributed to an increase in low-risk, well-differentiated thyroid cancer, a disease that has a 10-year mortality close to zero. Our previous work suggests that patients with low-risk thyroid cancer are at risk for overtreatment, defined as the use of Surgical and medical interventions in the absence of a clear survival benefit. The overtreatment of thyroid cancer has inherent costs, both to patient health and to society. The reason for the intensive management and potential overtreatment of low-risk thyroid cancer remains unclear. By using SEER-linked patient and physician Surveys, we plan to understand the Treatment decision making in low-risk thyroid cancer. We hypothesize that knowledge and attitudes influence decision making. Specifically, we anticipate that lack of knowledge of risks of death, recurrence and Treatment complications is associated with Treatment that is more intensive. in addition, we postulate that a general preference for active treatment will also be associated with more intensive cancer Treatment. Although both patient and physician perceptions of Treatment need (i.e., knowledge and attitudes) likely contribute to Treatment intensity, we anticipate that the primary driver will be physicians, even after controlling for their patients' perceptions. This study will serve as the foundation for future Intervention studies. By identifying the specific role of physician and patient knowledge and attitudes toward thyroid cancer Treatment, we will be able to create tailored educational interventions to personalize Surgical and medical care for thyroid cancer patients, thus minimizing overtreatment and its inherent risks and costs. As the rising Incidence, low mortality, and pattern of intensive Treatment make thyroid cancer arguably the best cancer model for overtreatment, this proposed study will also serve as a model to understand overtreatment in other malignancies.
PI: Megan Haymart
CO(s): Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, PhD & Sarah Hawley, PhD. MPH
Dorene S. Markel, M.S., M.H.S.A
Director, The Brehm Center
Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Learning Health Systems