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Maria Silveira, MD, MPH, is the lead author on an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (April 1, 2010) on end-of-life decision making. Silveira and her colleagues found in a large-scale study that more than a quarter of the elderly lacked decision-making capacity as they approached death. Those who had advance directives were very likely to get the care that they wanted. Co-authors on the study are Kenneth Langa, MD, PhD, and Scott Y.H. Kim, MD, PhD. Read a press release about the article here.

A new $13.6 million program award from the National Cancer Institute awarded to a national team of researchers centered at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center will examine how patients make treatment decisions, how doctors make treatment recommendations and how to improve the process for better outcomes.

Steven J Katz, MD, MPH, Co-Director of the Socio-Behavioral Program at the UM Comprehensive Cancer Center is theprincipal investigator on this new program grant.

Several CBSSM-affiliated faculty are involved with this project: Sarah Hawley, PhD, MPH and Jennifer Griggs, MD, MPH are program lead investigators,and Angela Fagerlin, PhD (CBSSM Co-Director) and Reshma Jagsi, MD, PhD are also investigators on this grant. Click here for more information.


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.

Fri, January 05, 2018
A study by CBSSM's Scott Roberts and colleagues about 23andMe customers' reactions to Alzheimer's risk results was recently cited in HeraldNet.
Research Topics: 

Funded by National Science Foundation.

Funding Years: 2015-2017.

When thinking about infectious diseases and making decisions about how to protect themselves, people often overreact to infectious diseases with low risk of infection, such as Ebola, and at other times fail to respond to infectious diseases with higher risk of infection, such as the flu. Both types of responses can lead to negative outcomes such as stress and anxiety, less productivity at work, and inefficient use of healthcare resources (either using too much or too little depending on the disease). We think that one reason that people may exhibit these responses to infectious diseases is that there may be a conflict between their beliefs about their risk and their feelings about their risk. This research will examine areas of misinformation and emotional responses to three infectious diseases: Ebola, the flu, and MERS. After identifying key areas of misinformation and excessive or subdued emotional responses to these three diseases, the research team develops and tests a number of communication strategies that best correct misinformation and resolve conflicts between beliefs and feelings of risk to motivate more appropriate responses to infectious diseases. After determining which strategies are better at doing those things than others, the research team creates a website to display "best-practices" in communicating about infectious diseases.

This research involves conducting a number of web studies to investigate when and for whom cognitive- and affective-based communication strategies work best at modifying cognitions, affect, and behavioral intentions towards pandemic risks. The research uses the theory of "risk-as-feelings". These studies will advance our understanding of risk-as-feelings in a number of ways. First, the research team examines the frequency of simultaneous contradictory responses (SCRs) - when beliefs and feelings of risk conflict - at least with these three infectious diseases. Second, the research team tests for the existence of simultaneous contradictory affective responses. Third, the team then assesses the relative influence of cognitive and affective sources of information on cognitions, affective reactions, and behavioral intentions, as well as in the possible resolution of SCRs. Fourth, the application of risk-as-feelings to determine optimal communication strategies about these infectious diseases should serve as a test-case for the utility of incorporating risk-as-feelings into public health theories of health behavior and communication. Fifth, due to its foundation in the theory of risk-as-feelings, insights gleaned from the current studies should help shape the way information is communicated about other public health issues beyond these disease. And finally, the research tests whether resolving SCRs is key to inducing appropriate responses to pandemic risks or whether improving knowledge, acknowledging fears, and/or improving feelings of efficacy, is sufficient to improve responses, as would be predicted by standard health behavior theories from public health.

PI(s): Brian Zikmund-Fisher

PIHCD Working Group

Thu, January 08, 2015, 3:00pm to 4:00pm

Jake Seagull will be speaking about prostate cancer shared decision making.

PIHCD: Tanner Caverly

Thu, February 12, 2015, 4:00pm
B004E NCRC Building 16

Tanner Caverly will be presenting on a decision tool about screening for lung cancer.

PIHCD: Geoff Barnes

Thu, September 24, 2015, 2:00pm
B003E NCRC Building 16

Geoff Barnes will present on analysis from a project about bridging anticoagulation decision making.

PIHCD: Michelle Moniz

Thu, October 22, 2015, 3:00pm
B004E NCRC Building 16

Michelle Moniz will be presenting a Specific Aims page for an NICHD K23 application about postpartum contraceptive decision-making.

Funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Funding Years: 2015-2016

The researchers will examine the extent to which consumers who are in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) engage in behaviors that help them optimize value. Employing a nationally representative survey, the researchers will explore: (1) how often and in what situations consumers engage in key value-promoting behaviors such as budgeting for health services, choosing settings of care based on price and/or quality, engaging in shared decision-making with providers that considers cost, and negotiating prices for services; (2) which consumers are most likely to engage in these behaviors; (3) which behaviors consumers find most beneficial in maximizing the value of their out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditures; (4) what are the facilitators of and barriers to consumers’ engagement in value-promoting behaviors; and (5) what are consumers’ attitudes and intentions towards engaging in value-promoting consumer behaviors in specific clinical situations. The goal of this project is to inform policymakers, payers, health systems, providers and consumers about the frequency and perceived effects of value-promoting consumer behaviors in HDHPs.

PI(s): Jeffrey Kullgren

Co-I(s): Angela Fagerlin, Helen Levy, A. Mark Fendrick