We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Research Letter | Less Is More

Physician Understanding and Ability to Communicate Harms and Benefits of Common Medical Treatments ONLINE FIRST

Mona Krouss, MD1; Lindsay Croft, PhD, MS2; Daniel J. Morgan, MD, MS2,3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Medicine, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore
2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore
3VA Maryland Healthcare System, Baltimore
JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 29, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5027
Text Size: A A A
Published online


This survey study describes academic internal medicine physicians' understanding of benefits and harms of common medical interventions, their use of statistical terms in patient communication, and their awareness of high-value health care campaigns.

Effective patient care requires not only a working knowledge of recommended tests and therapies but also an understanding of the frequency of harms and benefits for each. To make educated decisions, patients must understand harms and benefits of treatments. Unfortunately, patients consistently overestimate benefits and underestimate harms of medical tests and procedures.1 Likewise, physicians are poor at assessing treatment effect size and other aspects of numeracy. Some have hypothesized that clinicians, similar to patients, overestimate risks and underestimate harms.2 We evaluated physician understanding of harms and benefits of common tests and therapies.

Figures in this Article

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview


Place holder to copy figure label and caption
Combined Resident and Attending Physician Responses to Survey Questions

Green dots indicate the correct response, and red, incorrect response. Each dot corresponds to 1 physician, and the number of dots in each column corresponds to number of responses. BP indicates blood pressure.

Graphic Jump Location




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Submit a Comment
A free resource to improve numeracy in medicine
Posted on August 31, 2016
Bonny P McClain
Data & Donuts
Conflict of Interest: None Declared
I will gladly forward a free proof of my simple guidebook to Improving Numeracy in Medicine to anyone with an interest. We discuss effect sizes at the point of care such as Number Needed to Treat (NNT), Number Needed to Harm (NNH), and Number Needed to Screen (NNS).
Another useful EBM resource
Posted on September 13, 2016
Tanya MacLeod
Conflict of Interest: None Declared
Another useful resource that summarizes the key terms in EBM is a summary sheet created by Loren Reiger, RxFiles, Saskatchewan, Canada:

Submit a Comment


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

See Also...
Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles