In a recent report by the Academy of Medical Sciences, it states that only about a third (37%) of the public trust evidence from medical research, compared to approximately two-thirds (65%) who trust the experiences of their friends and family.
The new report highlights the significant difficulties patients and some healthcare professionals face in using evidence from research to judge the benefits and harms of medicines, and calls for concerted action to improve the information patients receive.
Report Chair, Professor Sir John Tooke FMedSci, said:
“It is startling to hear that only about a third of the public trust medical research, and that patients are struggling to make sense of the information they receive from their doctor, the TV, the internet and their friends and family about medicines.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies DBE FRS FMedSci, Chief Medical Officer for England, said:
“Medical science is progressing at an unprecedented rate, opening up opportunities not only to cure certain diseases, but potentially to prevent them from ever occurring. Yet it is vital that we find the best possible ways to use and communicate scientific evidence, so that progress may be translated into benefits for patients.”
Silvia Kirk, mum of two who participated in the Academy’s ‘Best Evidence’ public dialogue programme said:
“I’ve often left my doctor’s surgery with a prescription unsure why I needed the medicine, how it would make me feel and exactly when I should take it. This has left me confused about why the medicine is important for my health and unprepared for any side effects. It is really hard to think of the right questions to ask in an appointment, especially as you usually visit the doctor when you aren’t feeling well.”
The new report urges the public and medical professionals to make better use of medical appointments, and launches a set of questions for patients to discuss with their doctor to help them make better informed decisions about whether to take a medicine. Active involvement in decision making about their own health has been shown to improve outcomes for patients.
The report also recommends that some patients taking multiple medications for long-term conditions will need longer appointments with health professionals to make informed decisions.”