Patients pick safety over effectiveness when choosing treatment for knee arthritis

06/24/04

When given a choice, many older patients with knee osteoarthritis are willing to forgo potential treatment effectiveness for a lower risk of side effects, even if the safer option doesn't work as well as other medications, Yale researchers report.

The purpose of this study was to look at what treatment options patients prefer for knee arthritis. First author Liana Fraenkel, M.D. and her team interviewed 100 patients using an interactive computerized questionnaire, which asks patients to consider the pros and cons of different treatment options.

Fraenkel found that patients' treatment preferences are influenced most by the risk of side effects and that many patients preferred a safer treatment option, even if it didn't work as well as other medications. They also found that when given a choice, older patients almost never choose anti-inflammatory drugs over other available treatment options.

"Our results indicate that patient preferences may conflict with the widespread use of anti-inflammatory drugs for knee arthritis," said Fraenkel, assistant professor of internal medicine/rheumatology at Yale School of Medicine. "These results emphasize the importance of informing patients of all available alternatives and understanding individual patient preferences before deciding on treatment for knee arthritis."

Fraenkel and her team are working on ways to help patients understand the pros and cons of different treatment options so that they can have a more active role in deciding with their physician what treatment option is best for them.

Other authors on the study included Sidney T. Bogardus, Jr., M.D., John Concato, M.D., and Dick R. Wittink at Yale.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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