Journal Article

Patient stories about their dialysis experience biases others’ choices regardless of doctor’s advice: an experimental study

Anna E. Winterbottom, Hilary L. Bekker, Mark Conner and Andrew F. Mooney

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 27, issue 1, pages 325-331
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ndt/gfr266
Patient stories about their dialysis experience biases others’ choices regardless of doctor’s advice: an experimental study

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Background.

Renal services provide resources to support patients in making informed choices about their dialysis modality. Many encourage new patients to talk with those already experiencing dialysis. It is unclear if these stories help or hinder patients’ decisions, and few studies have been conducted into their effects. We present two studies comparing the impact of patient and doctor stories on hypothetical dialysis modality choices among an experimental population.

Methods.

In total, 1694 participants viewed online information about haemodialysis and continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis and completed a questionnaire. In Study 1, using actors, treatment information was varied by presenter (Doctor, Patient), order of presenter (Patient first, Doctor first) and mode of delivery (written, video). Information in Study 2 was varied (using actors) by presenter (Doctor, Patient), order of presenter (Patient first, Doctor first), inclusion of a decision table (no table, before story, after story) and sex of the ‘patient’ (male, female) and ‘Doctor’ (male, female). Information was controlled to ensure comparable content and comprehensibility.

Results.

In both studies, participants were more likely to choose the dialysis modality presented by the patient rather than that presented by the doctor. There was no effect for mode of delivery (video versus written) or inclusion of a decision table.

Conclusions.

As ‘new’ patients were making choices based on past patient experience of those already on dialysis, we recommend caution to services using patient stories about dialysis to support those new to the dialysis in delivering support to those who are new to the decision making process for dialysis modality.

Keywords: decision making; dialysis; patient stories

Journal Article.  4752 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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