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1.  Medication effectiveness may not be the major reason for accepting cardiovascular preventive medication: A population-based survey 
Shared decision-making and patients’ choice of interventions are areas of increasing importance, not least seen in the light of the fact that chronic conditions are increasing, interventions considered important for public health, and still non-acceptance of especially risk-reducing treatments of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is prevalent. A better understanding of patients’ medication-taking behavior is needed and may be reached by studying the reasons why people accept or decline medication recommendations. The aim of this paper was to identify factors that may influence people’s decisions and reasoning for accepting or declining a cardiovascular preventive medication offer.
From a random sample of 4,000 people aged 40–59 years in a Danish population, 1,169 participants were asked to imagine being at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and being offered a preventive medication. After receiving ‘complete’ information about effectiveness of the medication they were asked whether they would accept medication. Finally, they were asked about reasons for the decision.
A total of 725 (67%) of 1,082 participants accepted the medication offer. Even quite large effects of medication (up to 8 percentage points absolute risk reduction) had a smaller impact on acceptance to medication than personal experience with cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, increasing age of the participant and living with a partner were significantly associated with acceptance. Some 45% of the respondents accepting justified their choice as being for health reasons, and they were more likely to be women, live alone, have higher income and higher education levels. Among those who did not accept the medication offer, 56% indicated that they would rather prefer to change lifestyle.
Medication effectiveness seems to have a moderate influence on people’s decisions to accept preventive medication, while factors such as personal experience with cardiovascular disease may have an equally strong or stronger influence, indicating that practitioners could do well to carefully identify the reasons for their patients’ treatment decisions.
PMCID: PMC3465182  PMID: 22873796
Decision-making; Risk assessment; Risk communication; Preventive health services; Primary prevention; Cardiovascular disease; Health behavior
2.  Laypersons' understanding of relative risk reductions: Randomised cross-sectional study 
Despite increasing recognition of the importance of involving patients in decisions on preventive healthcare interventions, little is known about how well patients understand and utilise information provided on the relative benefits from these interventions. The aim of this study was to explore whether lay people can discriminate between preventive interventions when effectiveness is presented in terms of relative risk reduction (RRR), and whether such discrimination is influenced by presentation of baseline risk.
The study was a randomised cross-sectional interview survey of a representative sample (n = 1,519) of lay people with mean age 59 (range 40–98) years in Denmark. In addition to demographic information, respondents were asked to consider a hypothetical drug treatment to prevent heart attack. Its effectiveness was randomly presented as RRR of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 percent, and half of the respondents were presented with quantitative information on the baseline risk of heart attack. The respondents had also been asked whether they were diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia or had experienced a heart attack.
In total, 873 (58%) of the respondents consented to the hypothetical treatment. While 49% accepted the treatment when RRR = 10%, the acceptance rate was 58–60% for RRR>10. There was no significant difference in acceptance rates across respondents irrespective of whether they had been presented with quantitative information on baseline risk or not.
In this study, lay people's decisions about therapy were only slightly influenced by the magnitude of the effect when it was presented in terms of RRR. The results may indicate that lay people have difficulties in discriminating between levels of effectiveness when they are presented in terms of RRR.
PMCID: PMC2494548  PMID: 18631406
3.  Communicating effectiveness of intervention for chronic diseases: what single format can replace comprehensive information? 
There is uncertainty about how GPs should convey information about treatment effectiveness to their patients in the context of cardiovascular disease. Hence we study the concordance of decisions based on one of four single information formats for treatment effectiveness with subsequent decisions based on all four formats combined with a pictorial representation.
A randomized study comprising 1,169 subjects aged 40–59 in Odense, Denmark. Subjects were randomized to receive information in terms of absolute risk reduction (ARR), relative risk reduction (RRR), number needed to treat (NNT), or prolongation of life (POL) without heart attack, and were asked whether they would consent to treatment. Subsequently the same information was conveyed with all four formats jointly accompanied by a pictorial presentation of treatment effectiveness. Again, subjects should consider consent to treatment.
After being informed about all four formats, 52%–79% of the respondents consented to treatment, depending on level of effectiveness and initial information format. Overall, ARR gave highest concordance, 94% (95% confidence interval (91%; 97%)) between initial and final decision, but ARR was not statistically superior to the other formats.
Decisions based on ARR had the best concordance with decisions based on all four formats and pictorial representation, but the difference in concordance between the four formats was small, and it is unclear whether respondents fully understood the information they received.
PMCID: PMC2467410  PMID: 18565218
4.  Can postponement of an adverse outcome be used to present risk reductions to a lay audience? A population survey 
For shared decision making doctors need to communicate the effectiveness of therapies such that patients can understand it and discriminate between small and large effects. Previous research indicates that patients have difficulties in understanding risk measures. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that lay people may be able to discriminate between therapies when their effectiveness is expressed in terms of postponement of an adverse disease event.
In 2004 a random sample of 1,367 non-institutionalized Danes aged 40+ was interviewed in person. The participants were asked for demographic information and asked to consider a hypothetical preventive drug treatment. The respondents were randomized to the magnitude of treatment effectiveness (heart attack postponement of 1 month, 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, 4 years and 8 years) and subsequently asked whether they would take such a therapy. They were also asked whether they had hypercholesterolemia or had experienced a heart attack.
In total 58% of the respondents consented to the hypothetical treatment. The proportions accepting treatment were 39%, 52%, 56%, 64%, 67% and 73% when postponement was 1 month, 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, 4 years and 8 years respectively. Participants who thought that the effectiveness information was difficult to understand, were less likely to consent to therapy (p = 0.004).
Lay people can discriminate between levels of treatment effectiveness when they are presented in terms of postponement of an adverse event. The results indicate that such postponement is a comprehensible measure of effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC1851704  PMID: 17394656

Results 1-4 (4)