Items in AFP with MESH term: Decision Making
ABSTRACT: Adolescent onset of severe idiopathic scoliosis has traditionally been evaluated using standing posteroanterior radiographs of the full spine to assess lateral curvature with the Cobb method. The most tilted vertebral bodies above and below the apex of the spinal curve are used to create intersecting lines that give the curve degree. This definition is controversial, and patients do not exhibit clinically significant respiratory symptoms with idiopathic scoliosis until their curves are 60 to 100 degrees. There is no difference in the prevalence of back pain or mortality between patients with untreated adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and the general population. Therefore, many patients referred to physicians for evaluation of scoliosis do not need radiographic evaluation, back examinations, or treatment. Consensus recommendations for population screening, evaluation, and treatment of this disorder by medical organizations vary widely. Recent studies cast doubt on the clinical value of school-based screening programs.
ABSTRACT: A group of family physicians, obstetricians, midwives, obstetric anesthesiologists, and childbirth educators attended an evidence-based symposium in 2001 on the nature and management of labor pain and discussed a series of systematic reviews that focused on methods of labor pain management. Parenteral opioids provide modest pain relief in labor, and little evidence supports the use of one agent over another. Epidural analgesia is used during labor in most large U.S. hospitals, and its use is rapidly increasing in small hospitals. Although epidural analgesia is the most effective form of pain relief, its use is associated with a longer labor, an increased incidence of maternal fever, and increased rates of operative vaginal delivery. The effect of epidural analgesia on rates of cesarean delivery is controversial. Nitrous oxide provides a modest analgesic effect, but it is used less often in the United States than in other developed nations. Paracervical block provides effective analgesia in the first stage of labor, but its use is limited by postblock bradycardia. Research is needed regarding which pain-relief options women would choose if they were offered a range of choices beyond epidural analgesia or parenteral opioids.
ABSTRACT: Controversy surrounds the management options for localized prostate cancer-conservative management, prostatectomy, and radiation. Choosing among these options is difficult because of long-term side effects that include sexual, urinary, and bowel dysfunction. Some recent studies suggest that patients who have chosen treatment (i.e., radical prostatectomy or radiation) have longer disease-free survival compared with patients who have chosen conservative management (i.e., watchful waiting). However, several biases may artificially enhance the perceived value of treatment and make the interpretation of studies on treatment outcomes difficult. Sources of bias include lead time, length time, and patient selection. Because of the uncertain efficacy of management options and the risk of long-term treatment complications, family physicians need to engage their patients in the decision-making process.
ABSTRACT: Because advance directives are not yet the norm, end-of-life decisions for patients without medical decision-making capacity are made regularly within discussions between the patient's physician and family. Communication and decision making in these situations require a complex integration of relevant conceptual knowledge of ethical implications, the principle of surrogate decision making, and legal considerations; and communication skills that address the highly charged emotional issues under discussion. The most common pitfalls in establishing plans of care for patients who lack decision-making capacity include failure to reach a shared appreciation of the patient's condition and prognosis; failure to apply the principle of substituted judgment; offering the choice between care and no care, rather than offering the choice between prolonging life and quality of life; too literal an interpretation of an isolated, out-of-context, patient statement made earlier in life; and failure to address the full range of end-of-life decisions from do-not-resuscitate orders to exclusive palliative care.
ABSTRACT: Ethnic minorities currently compose approximately one third of the population of the United States. The U.S. model of health care, which values autonomy in medical decision making, is not easily applied to members of some racial or ethnic groups. Cultural factors strongly influence patients' reactions to serious illness and decisions about end-of-life care. Research has identified three basic dimensions in end-of-life treatment that vary culturally: communication of "bad news"; locus of decision making; and attitudes toward advance directives and end-of-life care. In contrast to the emphasis on "truth telling" in the United States, it is not uncommon for health care professionals outside the United States to conceal serious diagnoses from patients, because disclosure of serious illness may be viewed as disrespectful, impolite, or even harmful to the patient. Similarly, with regard to decision making, the U.S. emphasis on patient autonomy may contrast with preferences for more family-based, physician-based, or shared physician- and family-based decision making among some cultures. Finally, survey data suggest lower rates of advance directive completion among patients of specific ethnic backgrounds, which may reflect distrust of the U.S. health care system, current health care disparities, cultural perspectives on death and suffering, and family dynamics. By paying attention to the patient's values, spirituality, and relationship dynamics, the family physician can elicit and follow cultural preferences.
ABSTRACT: Each year, pacemaker therapy is prescribed to approximately 900,000 persons worldwide. Current pacemaker devices treat bradyarrhythmias and tachyarrhythmias and, in some cases, are combined with implantable defibrillators. In older patients, devices that maintain synchrony between atria and ventricles are preferred because they maintain the increased contribution of atrial contraction to ventricular filling necessary in this age group. In general, rate-responsive devices are preferred because they more closely simulate the physiologic function of the sinus node. Permanent pacemakers are implanted in adults primarily for the treatment of sinus node dysfunction, acquired atrioventricular block, and certain fascicular blocks. They also are effective in the prevention and treatment of certain tachyarrhythmias and forms of neurocardiogenic syncope. Biventricular pacing (resynchronization therapy) recently has been shown to be an effective treatment for advanced heart failure in patients with major intraventricular conduction effects, predominately left bundle branch block. Many studies have documented that pacemaker therapy can reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and, in certain patient populations, improve survival.
Initiating Hormonal Contraception - Article
ABSTRACT: Most women can safely begin taking hormonal birth control products immediately after an office visit, at any point in the menstrual cycle. Because hormonal contraceptives do not accelerate cervical neoplasia or interfere with cervical cytology, women who have not had a recent Papanicolaou smear can begin using hormonal contraceptives before the test is performed. After childbirth, most women can begin using progestin-only contraceptives immediately. Estrogen-containing methods can safely be initiated six weeks to six months postpartum for women who are breastfeeding their infants and three weeks postpartum for women who are not breastfeeding. Women can begin any appropriate contraceptive method immediately following an early abortion. Delaying contraception may decrease adherence. Physicians can help patients improve their use of birth control by providing anticipatory guidance about the most common side effects, giving comprehensive information about available choices, and honoring women's preferences. An evidence-based, flexible, patient-centered approach to initiating contraception may help to lower the high rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States.
Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis - Article
ABSTRACT: Lateral epicondylitis is a common overuse syndrome of the extensor tendons of the forearm. It is sometimes called tennis elbow, although it can occur with many activities. The condition affects men and women equally and is more common in persons 40 years or older. Despite the prevalence of lateral epicondylitis and the numerous treatment strategies available, relatively few high-quality clinical trials support many of these treatment options; watchful waiting is a reasonable option. Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, ultrasonography, and iontophoresis with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs appear to provide short-term benefits. Use of an inelastic, nonarticular, proximal forearm strap (tennis elbow brace) may improve function during daily activities. Progressive resistance exercises may confer modest intermediate-term results. Evidence is mixed on oral nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, mobilization, and acupuncture. Patients with refractory symptoms may benefit from surgical intervention. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy, laser treatment, and electromagnetic field therapy do not appear to be effective.
Cancer Screening in the Older Patient - Article
ABSTRACT: Although there are clear guidelines that advise at what age to begin screening for various cancers, there is less guidance concerning when it may be appropriate to stop screening. The decision to stop screening must take into account patients' age; overall health and life expectancy; the natural history of the disease; and the risks, expense, and convenience of the screening test, and any subsequent testing and treatment. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Family Physicians suggest that Papanicolaou smears can be discontinued in women at 65 years of age, provided they have had adequate recent normal screenings. Evidence suggests that cessation of breast cancer screening at approximately 75 to 80 years of age is appropriate, although American Geriatric Society guidelines recommend cessation at a more advanced age. Studies support continuing colon cancer screening until approximately 75 years of age in men and 80 years of age in women for patients without significant comorbidities. Prostate cancer screening, if conducted at all, may be discontinued at approximately 75 years of age in otherwise healthy men. Ultimately, the decision to screen or to discontinue screening must be made after careful discussion with each patient, using evidence-based guidelines and individual patient preferences.
External Cephalic Version - Article
ABSTRACT: External cephalic version is a procedure that externally rotates the fetus from a breech presentation to a vertex presentation. External version has made a resurgence in the past 15 years because of a strong safety record and a success rate of about 65 percent. Before the resurgence of the use of external version, the only choices for breech delivery were cesarean section or a trial of labor. It is preferable to wait until term (37 weeks of gestation) before external version is attempted because of an increased success rate and avoidance of preterm delivery if complications arise. After the fetal head is gently disengaged, the fetus is manipulated by a forward roll or back flip. If unsuccessful, the version can be reattempted at a later time. The procedure should only be performed in a facility equipped for emergency cesarean section. The use of external cephalic version can produce considerable cost savings in the management of the breech fetus at term. It is a skill easily acquired by family physicians and should be a routine part of obstetric practice.