76% of patients fear disagreeing with their physicians

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 13, 2012

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Only a small minority of patients can envision themselves voicing disagreement with their physicians, according to a study in Archives of Internal Medicine published online July 9.

Fourteen percent of patients would disagree with a doctor, with 76% saying that doing so would be socially unacceptable. Nearly 80% of the 140 patients in the study, all older than 40, said they believed they had the capacity to disagree, but only 15% thought doing so would lead to a good outcome, said the study (link).

Despite their fear of disagreeing, more than 90% would feel comfortable asking questions of their doctors and discussing their care preferences.

Patients’ reluctance to voice disagreement “appears to be a significant barrier to shared decision-making & and may correlate with poor adherence outside the office,” the study authors wrote. “The findings point to the need to test interventions that explicitly allow patients to voice disagreement with their physicians. This may well require attitude changes as well as behavior change.”

Note: This item originally appeared at

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