Making Good Treatment Choices

How do people decide whether or not to take a medicine?

When patients and healthcare providers think through the available treatment options, they consider the benefits and risks of each option. Benefits are the favorable effects and risks are the unfavorable effects. It is also important to understand how likely a patient is to experience any of these effects. 

Continue reading for more on this important topic and to test your understanding of risk.

Making Good Treatment Choices With Your Healthcare Team by PfizerMAKING GOOD TREATMENT CHOICES WITH YOUR HEALTHCARE TEAMUNDERSTANDING THE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF MEDICINES1EACH OF US MAKES MANY DECISIONS EVERY DAY.When we choose what food to eat or when to cross a busy street, we weigh the benefits and risks. This also happens when we think through whether or not to take a medicine.2ALL MEDICINES HAVE BENEFITS AND RISKS.2Medicines that need a prescriptionMedicines you might buy without a prescriptionBenefits of a medicine are favorable effects and risks of a medicine are unfavorable effects that can happen when you take a medicine.2BENEFITSof taking a medicine might include, for example:Improving sleepTreating an infectionPreventing a heart attackRISKSof taking a medicine might be, for example:Mild like most headachesMore serious like kidney damageAnd, rarely, deathWhen your healthcare team talks about the benefits and risks of your medicine, they use the product information to help you make good choices about your treatment options.There are potential risks if you do not take a medicine as prescribed.2 Taking medicines incorrectly can interfere with the ability of medicines to treat many diseases.3You and your healthcare team must always weigh the benefits and risks in order to choose the treatment that is right for you. Test your risk for heart disease with this short quiz. This is just one example showing how different people may have different risks.4CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE QUIZVIEWING RISKPeople may think of risk differently.5Would you feel safe...Crossing a busy street?Driving a car?Riding a motorcycle?Flying in an airplane?The way you think about these and other activities may be different from how other people think about them. It depends on many things such as:6• How you view and understand risk• How much risk you are willing to acceptCLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT VIEWING RISKUNDERSTANDING YOUR RISK7,8Understanding benefits and risks can help you make important decisions about your health and treatment.Imagine reading this headline online or in a newspaper:“TAKING MEDICINE X INCREASES THE RISK OF A HEART ATTACK BY 100%”That may be alarming at first glance — but what if the headline said: “WHEN TAKING MEDICINE X, ONE EXTRA PERSON IN ONE MILLION HAS A HEART ATTACK”?This statement is an example of absolute risk, which is the risk of having an event over a period of time.Both headlines are talking about the same event.The first headline is describing a relative risk, which examines the risk of an event happening to people who take a medicine compared to those who do not.As you can see, relative risk and absolute risk are two different ways of looking at risk.You and your healthcare team should discuss absolute and relative risk as they apply to you.Your risk of a side effect may be different from someone else who is taking the same medicine.9 For example, some medicines have a greater risk of side effects among older adults.It is important to talk with your healthcare team about your risks with a medicine.10CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT UNDERSTANDING RISKTAKE ACTIONWhen you meet with your healthcare team, take action by asking these questions:11What are my treatment options? What might happen if I wait to take this medicine or take no medicine?What are the benefits and risks of each option?What are the chances that these benefits and risks will happen to me?TELL YOUR HEALTHCARE TEAM WHAT RISKS AND BENEFITS ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU. FOR MORE ABOUT COMMUNICATING BENEFIT AND RISK INFORMATION, PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEOSOURCES1 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 Shepherd et al. Three questions that patients can ask to improve the quality of information physicians give about treatment options: A cross-over trial. Pat Ed Couns 2011; 84: 379-385.