Prostate cancer screening has been in the news again lately, and it continues to merit the label of “the controversy that refuses to die.” Let’s review some of the reasons for the recent resurgence in attention around the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.
Read more about why the prostate cancer screening debate continues
Last week the American College of Physicians published position papers on achieving high value from cancer screening. Ideally, “high-value strategies” deliver a large health benefit relative to harms and costs. Prostate cancer screening, the papers implied, has not been meeting this standard.
Read more about the misinformation in a hospital news release
Recent clinical practice guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommend against PSA screening for men of all ages, while other guideline groups, including the American Urological Association (AUA) and the American College of Physicians (ACP), recommend a shared decision making (SDM) approach to the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. “Dueling guidelines” can create confusion for people who are facing a health decision, as well as for their clinicians.
Read more about the results of a study on decision aids for PSA testing
The beginning of February sees us 10 months into the merger between Healthwise and the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, and much has happened in that time to advance the cause of ensuring that more and more people are informed and involved in their health care decisions. For those not in the know, Healthwise focuses on developing health education solutions for providers and payers, while the Foundation retains its emphasis on research and advocacy to amplify the patient’s voice in health care. The two organizations are united by our common mission to help people make better health decisions.
Read more about our merger with Healthwise, 10 months later
How are patients and providers engaging in shared decision making conversations about cancer screening? They aren't engaging frequently enough.
Read more about the state of medical decision making and why we need more SDM
More than 30 years ago, a Reagan-era Presidential Commission urged the national adoption of “shared decision making” (SDM) as a way to improve communication and informed consent in health care. Since then, many patient decision aids (PDAs) have been developed—tools that present information about common medical choices in standardized, user-friendly formats. More than 100 published, randomized trials using PDAs have shown many benefits.
Read more about recommendations for advancing shared decision making
During the month of May, women are inundated with messages to visit their primary care provider and get screening tests done as part of awareness efforts for National Women’s Health Month. For many women, keeping track of what tests to get, or when to get them, can be difficult and confusing. Over the past few years, numerous women’s health guidelines, especially those related to screenings, have gone through major changes. Add these changes to the already confusing health care system and a woman’s hectic life—often involving the balance of children, job, and household—and it’s no wonder that many women have a hard time knowing what they really need to do to care for themselves.
Read more about the importance of engaging women in mammography screening decisions
The month of November has just begun and so has the sprouting of mustaches. The mustaches aren’t necessarily a response to the colder weather, but a sign that “Movember” is here -- a month dedicated to raising awareness about various men’s health issues through facial hair growth. While there are many topics within the men’s health umbrella, this charity chooses to focus on the most prominent ones, mental health, testicular cancer and prostate cancer. While all of these topics are important, prostate cancer tends to receive the spotlight as it affects 1 in 6 men.
Read more about the importance of understanding the pros and cons of the PSA test
Last month we acknowledged our fantastic medical editors and some of their recent achievements. We love seeing our medical editors achieve such great things, but we love it even more when we are able to be a part of their achievements. Recently, one of our medical editors, Dr. Richard Hoffman, and his colleagues, based at the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center, were awarded a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grant will support conducting formative research to identify patient and provider barriers and facilitators to engaging in shared decision making for lung cancer screening and smoking cessation among under-served minority populations. Rich emphasizes that this research is important because, “lung-cancer screening is a preference sensitive decision and patients should be supported in making informed decisions.”
Read more about how Foundation staff will contribute to CDC grant
Steven Katz and Sarah Hawley of the University of Michigan authored a Viewpoint in last week’s Journal of the American Medical Association asking if we are “expecting too much” by suggesting that shared decision making (SDM) has the potential to reduce overtreatment and lower health care costs. They believe the promotion of SDM may be distracting from more effective physician- and institutional-level interventions aimed at addressing costs. While we whole-heartedly endorse solutions that focus attention on all parts of the health care system. We believe strongly that SDM should continue to be a key element of efforts to tackle the challenges of overtreatment and rising health care costs.
Read more about why SDM is only part of the solution to overuse and high costs