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February 12, 2014

Understanding Choice: Why Physicians Should Learn Prospect Theory

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto
  • 3Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto
  • 5Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto
  • 6University Health Network, Toronto
JAMA. 2014;311(6):571-572. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285245

Patients and their physicians work collaboratively to make medical decisions. Typically, they review a number of options and ultimately settle on a preferred choice. In some cases the choice is clear, such as applying a cast for a fractured radius. However, in many clinical situations, several options are reasonable. In such cases, patients may consult with health care professionals, family members, and friends to help guide their decisions. Medical training has traditionally emphasized pathophysiology, clinical evidence, and communication skills to prepare physicians for the numerous decisions they will help patients make.