Considerable Concern Exists Among U.S. Adults About the Frequency of Unnecessary or Overly Aggressive Medical Treatment, According to New Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll shows that there is considerable concern among U.S. adults about the frequency with which patients are medically overtreated by their doctors. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of U.S. adults think that patients who have medical conditions experience problems because of being overtreated (i.e., getting too many treatments or getting more aggressive treatment than is appropriate). In light of these concerns by the public, it's not surprising to learn that half (50%) of all adults are somewhat or very concerned, personally, about being overtreated when they are sick or in need of medical care. Below are the results of the online survey of 2,286 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive(R) between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 2005 for The Wall Street Journal Online's Health Industry Edition. Steps taken in response to concerns about overtreatment More than half (52%) of all adults have chosen to question or forego recommended care because they felt it was unnecessary or too aggressive. Specifically: * Nearly a third (32%) did not fill a prescription that their doctor gave them because they felt it was unnecessary. * About one-fifth (21%) got a second opinion from another doctor because they thought their doctor's recommendations were too aggressive. * Sixteen percent (16%) did not get a diagnostic test that their doctor recommended because they felt it was unnecessary. * One in 10 (10%) did not get a surgical procedure that their doctor recommended because they felt it was unnecessary. * Nine percent (9%) changed doctors because they felt their doctor's approach was too aggressive. Perceived causes of overtreatment The public has several theories as to why doctors may sometimes overtreat patients. Doctors' concerns about malpractice lawsuits (53%) and the desire to make more money (45%) and meet patients' demands (45%) are the reasons most cited by adults as to why they think overtreatment occurs. Other perceived causes for overtreatment include: * To make fast and easy decisions (31%) * Because of misleading information they receive from prescription drug and medical-device companies (30%) * Because of a faulty medical diagnosis (27%) * To give patients more reason to hope (16%). "Over the past few years, a great deal of media attention has driven public concerns about aggressive profiteering on the part of pharmaceutical companies and other sectors of the healthcare industry," said Katherine Binns, president of the Healthcare and Public Relations Research Practice at Harris Interactive(R). "However, these findings suggest that to some extent the public is also leery of the motivations behind physicians' decisions regarding patient care." TABLE 1 PERCEIVED FREQUENCY OF OVERTREATMENT VS. UNDERTREATMENT "Based on what you know or have heard, how often do you think patients who have medical conditions experience problems because of ... ?" Base: All Adults Often/ Rarely/ Sometimes Often Some- Never Rarely Never (Net) times (Net) Being overtreated, for example by getting too many treatments or by getting more aggressive treatment than is appropriate % 72 22 50 28 22 6 Being undertreated, for example by getting too few treatments or by getting less aggressive treatment than is appropriate % 83 31 51 17 13 5 Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding. TABLE 2 PERSONAL CONCERN REGARDING OVERTREATMENT "How concerned are you, personally, about receiving too many treatments or overly aggressive treatment when you are sick or in need of medical care?" Base: All Adults Total % Very/Somewhat Concerned (Net) 50 Very concerned 14 Somewhat concerned 37 Not Very/At All Concerned (Net) 50 Not very concerned 36 Not at all concerned 14 Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding. TABLE 3 STEPS TAKEN IN RESPONSE TO CONCERNS ABOUT OVERTREATMENT "Which of the following, if any, have you ever done when your doctor recommended a particular course of treatment for you or an immediate family member? Please select all that apply." Base: All Adults Total % Did not fill a prescription that your doctor gave you because you felt it was unnecessary 32 Got a second opinion from another doctor because you thought your doctor's recommendations were too aggressive 21 Did not get a diagnostic test that your doctor recommended because you felt it was unnecessary 16 Did not get a surgical procedure that your doctor recommended because you felt it was unnecessary 10 Changed doctors because you felt that your doctor's approach was too aggressive 9 None of these 48 Note: Multiple-response question. TABLE 4 PERCEIVED CAUSES OF OVERTREATMENT "Based on what you know or have heard, what do you think are the reasons that doctors sometimes overtreat patients, for example by providing too many treatments or overly aggressive treatments?" Base: All Adults Total % Because of concerns about malpractice lawsuits 53 To make more money 45 To meet patients' demands 45 To make fast and easy decisions 31 Because of misleading information they receive from prescription drug and medical device companies 30 Because of a faulty medical diagnosis 27 To give patients more reason to hope 16 Other 6 Don't know 9 Note: Multiple-response question. Downloadable PDFs of Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Polls are posted at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters_wsj.asp. Methodology Harris Interactive conducted this online survey within the United States between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 2005 among a nationwide cross section of 2,286 adults, ages 18 years and over. Figures for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. In theory, with probability samples of this size, one can say with 95% certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. This includes refusals to be interviewed (nonresponse), question wording and question order, and weighting. It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online sample is not a probability sample. These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. About the Survey The Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll is an exclusive poll that is published in the award-winning Health Industry Edition of The Wall Street Journal Online at http://www.wsj.com/health. About The Wall Street Journal Online The Wall Street Journal Online at http://WSJ.com, published by Dow Jones & Company (NYSE: DJ; http://www.dowjones.com), is the largest paid subscription news site on the Web. Launched in 1996, the Online Journal continues to attract quality subscribers that are at the top of their industries, with 744,000 subscribers world-wide as of Q2, 2005. The Online Journal provides in-depth business news and financial information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with insight and analysis, including breaking business and technology news and analysis from around the world. It draws on the Dow Jones network of nearly 1,800 business and financial news staff-the largest network of business and financial journalists in the world. The Online Journal also features exclusive content, including interactive graphics on business and world news, and online-only columns about the automotive industry, technology, personal finance and more. The Online Journal offers two industry-specific editions: the award- winning Health Industry Edition and the Media & Marketing Edition. The Health Industry Edition offers authoritative analysis, breaking news and commentary from top industry journalists. The Media & Marketing Edition is designed for professionals in the advertising, marketing, entertainment and media industries. Subscribers to both online editions also get access to the full content of the Online Journal. In 2005, the Online Journal was awarded a Codie Award for Best Online News Service for the second consecutive year, and its Health Industry Edition was awarded Best Online Science or Technology Service for the third consecutive year. In 2004, the Online Journal received an EPpy Award for Best Internet Business Service over 1 million monthly visitors. The Wall Street Journal Online network includes http://CareerJournal.com, http://OpinionJournal.com, http://StartupJournal.com, http://RealEstateJournal.com and http://CollegeJournal.com. About Harris Interactive(R) Harris Interactive Inc. (http://www.harrisinteractive.com) is the 13th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world, perhaps best known for The Harris Poll(R) and for pioneering and engineering Internet-based research methods. The Rochester, New York-based global research company blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient methods of investigation, analysis and application, conducting proprietary and public research globally to help clients achieve clear, material and enduring results. Blending science and art, Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital and one of the world's largest online panels of respondents, with premier Internet survey technology and sophisticated research methods to market leadership through its US, Europe (http://www.harrisinteractive.com/europe) and Asia offices, its wholly owned subsidiary, Novatris in Paris (http://www.novatris.com), and through an independent global network of affiliate market research companies. EOE M/F/D/V To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to participate in future online surveys, go to http://www.harrispollonline.com. Press Contacts: Robert Christie Dow Jones & Company 212-416-2636 Nancy Wong Harris Interactive 585-214-7316 Kelly Gullo Harris Interactive 585-214-7172
SOURCE Harris Interactive
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