Researchers have found doctors and patients often fail to see eye-to-eye over treatment.
Doctors taking part in a study published on bmj.com said they thought one of the main concerns of more than seven out of 10 breast cancer sufferers would be keeping their breast. But in reality only 7% of patients listed it a priority.
In another survey doctors said surviving for as long as they could would be the main priority of 96% of patients considering chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. But when the patients themselves were asked the same question, the figure was 59%.
And research showed patients frequently change their mind about what kind of treatment they want once they learn more about it. As an example the study claims the number of people choosing to undergo surgery for benign prostate disease fell by 40% after they discovered the operation could cause sexual problems.
The report’s authors Albert Mulleym, Chris Trimble and Glyn Elwyn, said properly understanding what patients wanted is more complex than simply asking them.
They said doctors need to view the issue with “scientific detachment”, look at facts and figures related to the issue and spend time talking in detail with patients about treatment options.
The authors said that patients who are well-informed often save the health service money as they tend to be less likely to opt for intensive treatments or multiple procedures.
They said: “It is tantalising to consider that budget-challenged health systems around the world could simultaneously give patients what they want and cut costs.”