Background: Current recommendations advise patients to participate in the decision-making for selecting a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening option. The degree to which providers communicate the information necessary to prepare patients for participation in this process is not known.
Objective: To assess the level of informed decision-making occurring during actual patient-provider communications on CRC screening and test for the association between informed decision-making and screening behavior.
Research design: Observational study of audiotaped clinic visits between patients and their providers in the primary care clinic at a Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Subjects: Male patients, age 50-74 years, presenting to a primary care visit at the study site.
Measures: The Informed Decision-Making (IDM) Model was used to code the audiotapes for 9 elements of communication that should occur to prepare patients for participation in decision-making. The primary outcome is completion of CRC screening during the study period.
Results: The analytic cohort consisted of 91 patients due for CRC screening who had a test ordered at the visit. Six of the 9 IDM elements occurred in < or =20% of the visits with none addressed in > or =50%. CRC screening occurred less frequently for those discussing "pros and cons" (12% vs. 46%, P = 0.01) and "patient preferences" (6% vs. 47%, P = 0.001) compared with those who did not.
Conclusions: We found that a lack of informed decision-making occurred during CRC screening discussions and that particular elements of the process were negatively associated with screening. Further research is needed to better understand the effects of informed decision-making on screening behavior.