Patient Misinformation About Hormone Therapy Remains High

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Results from one of the largest national surveys of doctors involved in menopause care conducted since the release of initial findings from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) leave no doubt -- even five years later, a cloud of confusion lingers for both physicians and patients regarding the results of the WHI study.

The online survey of over 400 physicians concludes that patients remain confused about the risks of hormone therapy (HT); in fact, only 15% of doctors believe their patients accurately perceive the risks of HT. The survey was conducted by Richard Day Research on behalf of The Hormone Foundation, with the support of Novogyne Pharmaceuticals.

Amongst the key findings of the survey is that only 18 percent of physicians have "no confusion at all" about the WHI findings. However, physicians feel the confusion that exists among the general public is much greater:

-- 93% feel the level of misinformation patients bring to their office about the WHI findings has "somewhat" or "very much" affected their practice

-- More than two-thirds feel their patients and the media have "a great deal of confusion" now about the WHI findings

-- 83% of doctors report their patients are as or more confused now than when the findings were first released in 2002

-- 81% of doctors believe the media are as or more confused now than when the findings were first released

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"Since the results of the WHI were first released in 2002, the public has been bombarded with conflicting information on how to interpret the findings," said Paula Correa, MA, Director of The Hormone Foundation. "The results of this survey underscore the importance of physicians' role in educating patients and calls for more public education on menopause management. This is a complex issue and patients should participate in a continuous open dialogue with their physicians to arrive at treatment decisions best for their individual needs."

Physicians make treatment decisions based on information shared by their patients. The survey revealed that 100 percent of physicians say the severity of their patients' symptoms is "somewhat" or "very important" to them when deciding whether to prescribe HT, closely followed by the range and specific types of symptoms (97 percent) and patient requests (94 percent).

Doctors were also asked to choose from a list of valuable tips to help their patients manage menopause. The following were the top five selections:

#1: Document and prioritize their symptoms, including how often they have symptoms and how severe they are

#2: Think through your own risk/benefit comfort level prior to a consultation

#3: Come to the physician's office with a list of questions prepared

#4: Learn about HT in general ahead of time

#5: Document your family health history

"In some ways, the complexity of the WHI has been a blessing in disguise," said menopause expert Nanette Santoro, MD, Professor and Director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center's Division of Reproductive Endocrinology in New York and member of

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