Public engagement with scientific evidence in health: A qualitative study among primary-care patients in an urban population

Marilyn M. Schapira, Diana Imbert, Eric Oh, Elena Byhoff, Judy A. Shea

The purpose of this study is to explore the experience and perspective of patients regarding scientific evidence in health and the degree that this information impacts health behavior and medical decision making. A focus group study was conducted. Participants were recruited from an urban primary-care practice. The focus group discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded by two independent investigators. Emergent themes were identified. Participants (n = 30) ranged in age from 30 to 79 years, 60% were female, 77% were black, and 50% had at least some college experience. Three thematic areas informed a wide range in level of interest regarding scientific study design and result information: (1) scientific literacy, (2) medical decision making style, and (3) impact of culture and community on decision making. Our findings indicate that communication strategies that incorporate key elements of scientific study design, methods, and results will most effectively translate findings from comparative effectiveness research to patient-informed decision making regarding evidence-based health interventions.

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