The influence of patient health literacy in prostate cancer treatment choice


“Health literacy pushed people towards active surveillance, which I thought was an interesting finding,” says Adam B. Murphy, MD, MBA, MSCI.

In this video, Adam B. Murphy, MD, MBA, MSCI, shares a notable secondary finding on the influence of perceived patient health literacy in urologists’ treatment decisions for prostate cancer based on the study, “Impact of genomic testing on urologists’ treatment preference in favorable risk prostate cancer: A randomized trial,” for which he served as the senior author. Murphy is an assistant professor of urology at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

Video Transcript:

Another interesting aspect of that study was the fact that health literacy was statistically significant in our models. Patient health literacy predicted urologist preference for surgery vs active surveillance. The people who were seeing patients who were reported as having below median health literacy, or lower health literacy, you saw preferring treatment with surgery, and preferring active surveillance for people who had higher general health literacy. I thought that was an interesting finding, which also kind of mirrored what we saw in the patient treatment choice paper we did 2 years prior, where patients who had low health literacy also chose surgery or radiation more often than patients who had higher health literacy. Health literacy pushed people towards active surveillance, which I thought was an interesting finding. So, patients and providers both respond to patients' health literacy similarly. What's interesting is that we didn't give the results of these patient's health literacy tests to the providers. So, the fact that it came out statistically significant in the models suggests that providers may have a sense of health literacy for their patients, and that that may influence their compliance with being able to keep up with the repeat PSA tests and digital rectal exams and also the repeat prostate biopsy that are really important for the active surveillance protocols.

This transcription has been edited for clarity.

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