App helps patients with medical decisions

By | March 8, 2017

Icon array graphic showing results for four different breast cancer treatment options.

Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher and his colleagues at U-M developed a web-based application that allows health-care providers and researchers to create icon array graphics that help patients make informed decisions about their care. Their research found that presenting information in such formats can help patients better understand their treatment options and the associated benefits and risks. His research also suggests patients can be overwhelmed with too much information at once. For example, breast-cancer patients often have to decide between multiple therapy options. In a study that surveyed 1,781 women, half viewed displays that showed four possible treatment plans at once. The other half viewed the same information as two separate yes/no choices. The study, led by Zikmund-Fisher, found that women who considered therapy options one at a time had significantly better comprehension of relevant risk information than those who had to consider all options at once.