Doctors Don't Treat Themselves With the Treatments They Recommend

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A survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine offers a surprising finding: It turns out that the treatments doctors would pick for themselves are not always the treatments they would recommend to patients. Imagining themselves as patients, doctors often select treatments that carry a higher risk of death but fewer unpleasant side effects. Here's more on the new study, from Reuters:

"I don't think any patient would expect that. If they found out, they would raise a lot of questions," said Peter Ubel, at Duke University, who led the research.

"It has nothing to do with moral. It has everything to do with human nature. The doctors don't even know they are behaving this way."

In the survey, two sets of questions were sent to primary care physicians around the United States. One set asked about different types of hypothetical colon cancer surgery and another about a treatment for bird flu.

The doctors received either a survey that asked them to assume they were the patient, or one that asked them about their advice for patients.

Of 242 physicians who answered the colon cancer questionnaire, 38 percent went with the survey that carried a higher risk of death but fewer side effects for themselves. By contrast, only a quarter said they would recommend that treatment to their patients.

Read the full story at Reuters.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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