In previous episodes of Healthcare Triage, we’ve discussed how people often misunderstand risk and how it affects them. We’ve also talked about how you can calculate the explicit metrics of numbers needed to treat and harm. But people rarely use them. In spite of the existence of metrics to help patients appreciate benefits and harms, a new systematic review suggests that our expectations are not consistent with the facts.
Most patients overestimate the benefits of medical treatments, and underestimate the harms; because of that, they use more care. That’s the topic of this week’s Healthcare Triage.
This piece was based largely on a column Austin and I wrote for the Upshot at the NYT. References can be found there.