Mancuso C, Morris JB, Hernandez N, Fernandez MI. Medical Student Decision-Making: Standard Surgical Excision or Mohs Micrographic Surgery to Manage Basal Cell Carcinoma. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2018;118(1):19–25. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2018.004.
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As future physicians, osteopathic medical students will play a critical role in helping patients make informed decisions regarding treatment options.
To examine the influence that the time, cost, and cosmetic effects associated with treatment options for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), along with students’ demographic characteristics, have on treatment decision-making. The influence that different sources of information have on students was also studied.
Medical students were recruited from the Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine for this cross-sectional study. Students were presented with a case scenario in which they were a patient with primary nodular BCC in a low-risk zone, and they were asked to select standard surgical excision (SSE) or Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) as a treatment option. They also completed an anonymous survey that assessed the way that factors associated with the treatment options (time, cost, and cosmetic effects) influenced their treatment choice, along with the influence that different sources of information have. Measures of central tendency, frequencies, and other descriptive analyses were used to define the characteristics of the sample. χ2 analysis, correlational analysis, and t tests were used to examine the associations between the treatment decision, treatment-related factors (time, cost, cosmetics), and year in medical school. Statistical significance was set at P≤.05.
A total of 450 students completed the survey and were included in the bivariate analysis. Three hundred forty-five students (76.7%) selected MMS as a treatment option and 105 (23.3%) selected SSE. Significant differences were found in the influence of time, cost, and cosmetic effects associated with treatment between students who selected MMS and those who selected SSE (P<.001). Cost played a more influential role in treatment decision-making for students who selected SSE than for those who selected MMS. Time and cosmetic effects played a more influential role in treatment choice for those who selected MMS. The most influential sources of information were health care professionals and medical literature, with 398 (88.4%) and 313 (69.6%) students, respectively, indicating that these sources were highly influential when making medical treatment decisions. The internet had a low influence over students’ treatment decision-making (238 [52.9%]).
This study represents an initial step toward understanding factors that influence patients’ treatment decision-making in a situation in which there is no medically preferred treatment option. The findings point to the importance of time, cost, and cosmetics as influential factors for patients choosing between different treatment options.
a Data are given as No. (%) unless otherwise indicated.
b Employer-based, self-paid.
Abbreviations: SSE, standard surgical excision; MMS, Mohs micrographic surgery.
a Mean scores ranging from 1 to 15, with 1 indicating the lowest influence and 15 indicating the highest influence.
a Data are given as No. (%).
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