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When Is a Harm a Harm? Discordance between Patient and Medical Experts' Evaluation of Lung Cancer Screening Attributes.

Schapira MM, Rodriguez KL, Chhatre S, Fraenkel L, Bastian LA, Kravetz JD, Asan O, Akers S, Vachani A, Prigge JM, Meline J, Ibarra JV, Corn B, Kaminstein D. When Is a Harm a Harm? Discordance between Patient and Medical Experts' Evaluation of Lung Cancer Screening Attributes. Medical decision making : an international journal of the Society for Medical Decision Making. 2021 Apr 1; 41(3):317-328.

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BACKGROUND: A shared decision-making (SDM) process for lung cancer screening (LCS) includes a discussion between clinicians and patients about benefits and potential harms. Expert-driven taxonomies consider mortality reduction a benefit and consider false-positives, incidental findings, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, radiation exposure, and direct and indirect costs of LCS as potential harms. OBJECTIVE: To explore whether patients conceptualize the attributes of LCS differently from expert-driven taxonomies. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study with semistructured interviews and a card-sort activity. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-three Veterans receiving primary care at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 55 to 73 y of age with 30 or more pack-years of smoking. Sixty-one percent were non-Hispanic African American or Black, 35% were non-Hispanic White, 4% were Hispanic, and 9% were female. APPROACH: Semistructured interviews with thematic coding. MAIN MEASURES: The proportion of participants categorizing each attribute as a benefit or harm and emergent themes that informed this categorization. KEY RESULTS: In addition to categorizing reduced lung cancer deaths as a benefit (22/23), most also categorized the following as benefits: routine annual screening (8/9), significant incidental findings (20/23), follow-up in a nodule clinic (20/23), and invasive procedures (16/23). Four attributes were classified by most participants as a harm: false-positive (13/22), overdiagnosis (13/23), overtreatment (6/9), and radiation exposure (20/22). Themes regarding the evaluation of LCS outcomes were 1) the value of knowledge about body and health, 2) anticipated positive and negative emotions, 3) lack of clarity in terminology, 4) underlying beliefs about cancer, and 5) risk assessment and tolerance for uncertainty. CONCLUSIONS: Anticipating discordance between patient- and expert-driven taxonomies of the benefits and harms of LCS can inform the development and interpretation of value elicitation and SDM discussions.

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