Physician perceptions of Choosing Wisely and drivers of overuse

Am J Manag Care. 2016 May;22(5):337-43.


Objectives: Little is known regarding physicians' views on health service overuse or their awareness of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation's Choosing Wisely campaign. Through the Survey on Overuse and Knowledge of Choosing Wisely, we assessed physician views on hypothesized drivers of overuse and Choosing Wisely.

Study design: We designed the survey to investigate physicians' knowledge of, awareness of, and feelings toward Choosing Wisely, along with their concerns about malpractice, perception of patient demand, discomfort with uncertainty, and cost-consciousness. Where possible, we used pre-validated survey instruments.

Methods: We distributed the survey to clinicians practicing at Atrius Health, the largest ambulatory care provider in Massachusetts. We analyzed 584 responses (72% response rate) and calculated 3 previously validated scales.

Results: Primary care physicians reported significantly greater awareness of Choosing Wisely (47.2%) than medical specialists (37.4%) and surgical specialists (27%). A majority (62%) of all respondents reported they found uncertainty involved in providing care disconcerting. Approximately one-third felt it unfair to ask physicians to be both cost-conscious and concerned with welfare, thought too much emphasis was placed on costs, and thought doctors were too busy to worry about costs. Surgical specialists were more concerned about malpractice, whereas primary care physicians reported feeling significantly more pressure from patients for tests and procedures.

Conclusions: Knowledge of Choosing Wisely is limited, but primary care physicians are more aware of the campaign than specialists. Although hypothesized drivers of overuse are prevalent, most physicians support cost-consciousness in medicine and embrace their responsibility in reducing costs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Medical Overuse / prevention & control*
  • Medical Overuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Primary Care / psychology*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires