Combining patient utility with health status assessment to improve medical decision making
Physicians often use health status assessment tools to evaluate a patient’s condition, then apply established guidelines to determine the most medically effective treatment. Yet additional criteria, such as the appropriateness of the treatment given the particular patient’s preferences and attitude toward risk, are also highly relevant to quality care. While such preferences could be addressed via patient utility functions, their use in actual practice is somewhat limited because elicitation is often considered too burdensome for patients, unreliable, or redundant given other measures. For a small group of real patients who have suffered a stroke, we measure both traditional health status and patient utility for the current state to determine whether limited, focused utility assessment is a practical means of obtaining additional and relevant patient information. We find that utility assessment is perceived as reasonable and useful by patients, even when quite ill, and that utilities and health status are not redundant. In fact, investigating apparent inconsistencies between patient utility and observed health status can alert the physician to patient concerns and criteria not captured by more traditional measures. We propose an approach to medical decision making that uses both measures to improve patient-physician communication. © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Boiney, LG; Winkler, RL; Sarin, RK; Matchar, DB
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