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Evidence That Consumers Are Skeptical About Evidence-Based Health Care

This is archived content, for historical reference only.

As health care reform unfolds following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a study published in the June 2010 issue of the journal Health Affairs shows a deep chasm between proponents of evidence-based medicine and health consumers, who, the authors found, don’t understand key terms such as “medical evidence” or “quality guidelines.”

The study, “Evidence That Consumers Are Skeptical About Evidence-Based Health Care,” was supported in part by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) and conducted in collaboration with the National Business Group on Health. It examines the misconceptions, values, beliefs, and behaviors that challenge efforts to engage consumers in evidence-based decisionmaking. A key finding from the research: Most consumers believe that more care means better care.

According to the authors, consumers believe that new types of care and treatment are always better, and it’s difficult for them to accept evidence to the contrary. The study was led by Kristin L. Carman, PhD, codirector of health policy and research analysis at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, DC. Jill M. Yegian, director of research and evaluation at CHCF, was a coauthor of the study.

Researchers note that it will be difficult to motivate consumers to accept evidence-based health care given that traditional models of care are still dominant, health care decisions are becoming increasingly complex, and the general public has relatively low levels of health and scientific literacy. They comment that effective communication and support of early adopters will be critical in boosting quality of care and holding down costs.

The complete article is available free of charge on the Health Affairs site through the link below. Also available, under Related CHCF Pages below, is the original communication toolkit.