Dr. Langa is the Cyrus Sturgis Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and Institute for Social Research, a Research Scientist in the Veterans Affairs Center for Clinical Management Research, and an Associate Director of the Institute of Gerontology, all at the University of Michigan. He is also Associate Director of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a National Institute on Aging funded longitudinal study of 20,000 adults in the United States ( http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu ).
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Michigan Medicine has launched Victors Care, a concierge medical care model designed to deliver increased access, convenience and individually-tailored support within a primary care practice for patients who pay for membership. Like all concierge care programs, Victors Care raises ethical issues relating to justice, fairness, access, and consistency with the mission of Michigan Medicine. This Bioethics Grand Rounds will address the ethical issues of concierge care in a panel format with institutional leaders. The panel will address your questions directly. Questions will be solicited during the session, and can be submitted in advance via: https://umichumhs.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_b4nJWM70ahHQtjD.
Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., EVPMA and Dean
Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil, Director, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine
David J. Brown, M.D., Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusion
Andrew Shuman, M.D., F.A.C.S & Christian J. Vercler, M.D, M.A, F.A.C.S – Service Chiefs, Clinical Ethics Service, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine
Please consider attending the Health Services Research Group Launch Symposium at the North Campus Research Complex (Building 18) on Thursday, May 26, 7:30am - 5:00 pm. The purpose is to discuss the HSR Group's goals and future plans, discuss relevant topics in healthcare policy, and network with colleagues. Even if you are unable to attend, go to the registration page to indicate your interest in health services research and health policy so that you may be contacted again in the future. Click here to register.
In addition, there is an effort to collect information on all HSR groups on campus for purposes of networking and for junior investigators or newcomers to U-M to find colleagues and collaborators. Preliminary information will be provided at the Symposium and later a Wiki website will be created. Please send the main research theme(s) of the group/center; rough idea about the investigators, divisions, departments, schools; website URL, if applicable; seminar information, if applicable; and contact information to Joe Zogaib at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month's grand rounds features: Michael Jibson, MD, Psychiatry Department speaking about "Psychiatry, Law, and Society: Ethical and Legal Issues in Mental Health"
Please join us for a lively discussion of medical ethics. The Bioethics Grand Rounds is co-sponsored by the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, the UMHS Adult and Pediatric Medical Ethics Committee, and the Program of Society and Medicine. This educational session is open to all faculty and staff and members of the public. CME credit is available.
To meet ACCME requirements for Faculty Planner disclosure and Presenter Disclosure to participants of CME activities at UM, please be advised that the following faculty planner(s)/co-planner(s) and presenter have no personal financial relationships relevant to the activity listed below:
- Andrew Shuman, MD
- Christian Vercler, MD
Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil. and Andrew Barnosky, D.O., M.P.H. were recognized by Michigan Medicine faculty for two distinct awards. Jagsi received the American Medical Women's Association Gender Equity Award for promoting equality in the education and training of physicians by assuring equal opportunities for women and men to study and practice medicine. Barnosky received the Gold Foundation's Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award for excellence and outstanding compassion in the delivery of care and respect for patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues. Their awards were presented by Raj Mangrulkar, M.D., Marguerite S. Roll Professor of Medical Education, and Carol Bradford, M.D., M.S., executive vice dean for Academic Affairs at the Medical School, both pictured below.
Peter Ubel, MD, is a physician and behavioral scientist whose research and writing explores the quirks in human nature that influence people's lives — the mixture of rational and irrational forces that affect health, happiness and the way society functions.
Dr. Ubel is Professor of Marketing and Public Policy at Duke University. He was Professor of Medicine and Psychology at the University of Michigan, where he taught from 2000 to 2010, and from 2005-2010, served as the Director of the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine.
The Working Group provides a forum for project focused discussions and interdisciplinary collaborations in topics related to bioethics, health communication, decision making and any other topic that fits within the 5 domains of CBSSM.
Working group meetings provide an opportunity for investigators to receive feedback on research proposals, drafts of papers, grant applications, or any other aspects of projects at any stage of development. These sessions are to help move forward a project in any stage of its development. So if your project is in the works, in the planning stages, or perhaps it is still just an idea, you design the session and determine how to best solicit the help and support of your colleagues.
Some examples could be:
- Outline sketch of specific aims for a grant. (Presenter would provide a one page summary before the session)
- Outline of a proposed paper or paper in draft stage. (Discussion would be based on one page summary. Presenter would walk the group through the outline or draft, and solicit feedback on significance and coherence of ideas)
- Determining a paper’s relevance. (Presenter could ask group members to read a paper, in order to discuss/determine if that paper is crucial to the project that the person has in mind-- different from a journal club exercise.)
This meeting is designed as an informal working group not a formal presentation.
Are opinions on whether health care funding should be rationed dependent on an individual's perspective? Imagine that there are two regional health systems, each responsible for providing health care for one million people. The Director of each system has enough money to fund only one of two medical treatment programs. The health systems have the same limited budget and are the same in every way except for the treatment program that each Director decides to fund.
- Director who funded Program A (moderate shortness of breath)
- Director who funded Program B (severe shortness of breath)
- Both choices were equally good
- strongly agree
- strongly disagree
- strongly agree
- strongly disagree
How do your answers compare?
Before we analyze your responses to the scenario, we'd like to offer some background information about this area of research.
In an environment of scarce health care resources, policy makers and leaders of health care organizations often must make difficult choices about funding treatment programs. Researchers find out how people value different health states by asking questions like the ones you've answered. This area of research is called "person tradeoff elicitation."
The problem is that many people refuse to give a comparison value, saying that both choices are equal ("equivalence refusal") or saying that millions of people would have to be cured of one condition to be equal to the other treatment choice ("off-scale refusal"). Sometimes these responses are appropriate, but many times these responses seem inappropriate. Furthermore, the frequency of these decision refusals depends on how the questions are asked.
What were the specific goals of this research study?
In an article published by Laura J. Damschroder, Todd R. Roberts, Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, and Peter A. Ubel (Medical Decision Making, May/June 2007), the authors explored whether people would be more willing to make health care tradeoffs if they were somewhat removed from the decision making role. As part of their study, the researchers asked people to comment on choices made by others, in this case, the Directors of two identical regional health systems. For this study, the researchers anticipated that asking participants to judge someone else's decision would make it easier for the participants to compare the benefit of curing two conditions that have a clear difference in severity. The researchers thought that adopting a perspective of judging someone else's decision might lessen the participants' feeling about making "tragic choices" between groups of patients and hence result in fewer refusals to choose. The researchers also hypothesized that respondents taking a non-decision-maker perspective would be more detached and would feel less outraged about the idea of having to ration medical treatments. As we will explain below, the researchers were surprised to learn that their hypotheses were wrong!
What did this research study find?
Some people surveyed in this study were asked to decide for themselves which of two treatment programs for shortness of breath should be funded. Others, like you, were asked which health system Director made the better decision about treatment programs for shortness of breath. Significantly, the respondents who had the evaluator perspective had nearly two times higher odds of giving an equivalence refusal�that is, saying that the decisions were equal. Why did this evaluator perspective fail to decrease these decision refusals? One possibility is that respondents did not feel as engaged in the decision. It's also possible that respondents felt that they were judging the Directors who made the decision rather than the decision itself. Or maybe respondents didn't want to second-guess the decisions of people they perceived as experts. The researchers predicted that people who had to make the decision about treatment themselves would be more outraged about the idea of rationing health care treatments. This prediction was also wrong! 69% of all respondents agreed that rationing is sometimes necessary, and yet 66% of all respondents also felt outraged about the idea of having to ration. The percentages were nearly the same for those deciding directly and those evaluating the decision of Directors of health care systems.
What conclusions did the researchers draw?
The researchers in this study concluded that perspective definitely matters in making hard choices about allocation of health care resources. They attempted to increase people's willingness to make tradeoffs by changing their perspective from decision maker to evaluator of someone else's decision. These attempts backfired. Contrary to the researchers' predictions, people were dramatically more likely to give equivalence refusals when they were assigned to a non-decision-maker perspective. The researchers also concluded that the degree of emotion aroused by health care rationing also plays a role in people's willingness to make tradeoffs.
So, how does your response to the Directors' decision in the shortness-of-breath scenario compare with the responses of the people surveyed for this study?
If you responded that the choices of both Directors were equal, you were not alone! Overall, with this scenario and related ones, 32% of respondents in the published study refused to make the tradeoff. These were the equivalence refusals. In comparison, 21% of respondents in the study who were asked to decide themselves between two patient groups gave an equivalence refusal.
If you made a choice of Directors in the shortness-of-breath scenario, how does your numerical answer compare with the responses of people surveyed for this study?
In the study, 15% of respondents gave a number of one million or more as the point at which the Directors' decisions about the two treatment programs would be equal. These were the off-scale refusals. In comparison, 19% of respondents in the study who were asked to decide themselves about the two programs gave an off-scale refusal.
What about your level of outrage?
In the study, 69% of respondents agreed that rationing of health care treatment is sometimes necessary, but 66% also felt outraged about the idea of having to ration. These attitudes were the same whether the respondents were assigned an evaluator perspective (as you were) or a direct decision maker perspective.
Read the article:
Why people refuse to make tradeoffs in person tradeoff elicitations: A matter of perspective?
Damschroder LJ, Roberts TR, Zikmund-Fisher BJ, Ubel PA. Medical Decision Making 2007;27:266-288.
Michael Volk was an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Michigan. His clinical practice focuses on the care of patients with liver disease, including those undergoing liver transplantation and those with hepatocellular carcinoma. His research interests focus on the ethics of resource allocation, patient and physician decision making, and chronic disease management. In particular, he has conducted a series of studies designed to improve the way decisions are made about using high risk liver transplant organs.
Tell us what you think about certain public policies designed to reduce the incidence of diabetes in the US.
Please read this hypothetical news article and then answer a few questions at the end.
People with Diabetes Lobby Congress This Week
- strongly disagree
- strongly agree
- strongly disagree
- strongly agree
- strongly disagree
- strongly agree
Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?
- Strong Democrat
- Not so strong Democrat
- Independent, close to Democrat
- Independent, close to Republican
- Not so strong Republican
- Strong Republican
- Don't know, haven't thought much about it
How you answered:
Researchers affiliated with CBDSM and the School of Public Health have found that "Americans' opinions about health policy are polarized on political partisan lines. Democrats and Republicans differ in the ways that they receive and react to messages about the social determinants of health."
In the study, lead author Sarah Gollust, PhD, randomly assigned participants to read one of four hypothetical news articles about type 2 diabetes. Diabetes was used as an example of a common health issue that is widely debated and that is known to have multiple contributing factors, including genetic predisposition, behavioral choices, and social determinants (such as income or neighborhood environments).
The articles were identical except for the causal frame embedded in the text. The article that you read in this Decision of the Month presented social determinants as a cause for type 2 diabetes. Other versions of the article presented genetic predisposition or behavioral choices as a cause for type 2 diabetes, and one version had no causal language.
Dr. Gollust then asked the study participants their views of seven nonmedical governmental policies related to the environmental, neighborhood, or economic determinants of diabetes:
- bans on fast food concessions in public schools
- incentives for grocery stores to establish locations where there are currently few
- bans on trans fat in restaurants
- government investment in parks
- regulating junk food advertisements
- imposing taxes on junk foods
- subsidizing the costs of healthy food
Dr. Gollust also asked participants their political party identification and a number of other self-reported characteristics.
The most dramatic finding of this study was that the news story with the social determinants as a cause for type 2 diabetes had significantly different effects on the policy views of participants, depending on whether they identified themselves as Democrats or Republicans. After reading the social determinants article, Democrats expressed a higher level of support for the proposed public health policies. Republicans expressed a lower level of support for the proposed public health policies. This effect occurred only in the group of participants who were randomly assigned to read the version of the news article with social determinants given as a cause for type 2 diabetes. Dr. Gollust summarizes: "Exposure to the social determinants message produced a divergence of opinion by political party, with Democrats and Republicans differing in their opinions by nearly 0.5 units of the 5-point scale."
The study suggests several possible explanations for these results:
"First, the social determinants media frame may have presumed a liberal worldview to which the Republican study participants disagreed or found factually erroneous (ie, not credible), but with which Democrats felt more comfortable or found more familiar. . . Second, media consumption is becoming increasingly polarized by party identification, and . . . the social determinants message may have appeared particularly biased to Republicans. . .Third, the social determinants frame may have primed, or activated, study participants' underlying attitudes about the social group highlighted in the news article. . . Fourth, participants' party identification likely serves as proxy for . . . values held regarding personal versus social responsibility for health."
Dr. Gollust and her colleagues conclude that if public health advocates want to mobilize the American public to support certain health policies, a segmented communication approach may be needed. Some subgroups of Americans will not find a message about social determinants credible. These subgroups value personal responsibility and find social determinants antagonistic to their worldview. To avoid triggering immediate resistance by these citizens to information about social determinants of health, public health advocates may consider the use of information about individual behavioral factors in educational materials, while working to build public familiarity with and acceptance of research data on social determinants.
For more details about this study: