US gynecologists' estimates and beliefs regarding ovarian cancer screening's effectiveness 5 years after release of the PLCO evidence

Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 21;8(1):17181. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35585-z.


Efficient patient care requires the conscientious use of current best evidence. Such evidence on ovarian cancer screening showed that the screening has no survival benefit but considerable harms; currently no medical organization recommends it. In a cross-sectional online survey study with 401 US outpatient gynecologists we investigated whether they follow the recommendation of their medical organizations in daily practice and report estimates of ovarian cancer screening's effectiveness that approximate current best evidence (within a ± 10 percent margin of error), and if not, whether a fact box intervention summarizing current best evidence improves judgments. Depending on question, 44.6% to 96.8% reported estimates and beliefs regarding screening's effectiveness that diverged from evidence, and 57.6% reported regularly recommending the screening. Gynecologists who recommend screening overestimated the benefit and underestimated the harms more frequently. After seeing the fact box, 51.6% revised initial estimates and beliefs, and the proportion of responses approximating best evidence increased on all measures (e.g., mortality reduction: 32.9% [95% CI, 26.5 to 39.7] before intervention, 77.3% [71.0 to 82.8] after intervention). Overall, results highlight the need for intensified training programs on the interpretation of medical evidence. The provision of fact box summaries in medical journals may additionally improve the practice of evidence-based medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Culture*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Procedures and Techniques Utilization
  • United States