New report: Contradicting views on reasons behind unnecessary tests

15 Dec 2016
While Australians understand the importance of reducing unnecessary medical testing, many people still want their doctors to conduct all the available tests related to their condition regardless of need, according to a new report from Choosing Wisely Australia®.

Choosing Wisely is part of a global movement working to improve the quality and safety of healthcare for consumers by eliminating unnecessary care, including tests, treatments and procedures. The initiative is led by Australia’s health profession and facilitated by NPS MedicineWise.

The Choosing Wisely in Australia 2016 Report offers some key insights into the drivers of unnecessary healthcare and details the success of the campaign since it launched in Australia last year.

Dr Lynn Weekes, CEO of NPS MedicineWise, said the report revealed some contradictory attitudes among consumers around medical testing and a need for better conversations between healthcare professionals and consumers around their testing and treatment options.

“It found 71% of people agreed with reducing unnecessary care,” Dr Weekes said. “However 74% indicated that if they were sick, their doctor should conduct all available medical tests related to their condition.

“There’s also an obvious disconnect between doctors and patients about why unnecessary testing is occurring.

“Of those we surveyed, 41% of GPs and 21% of specialists said they were asked by patients for unnecessary tests several times a week. But 79% of consumers said they had tests at their healthcare provider’s recommendation.

“This certainly highlights the need for better conversations on both sides.”

“Our work with health professionals and consumers aims to eliminate medical practices where evidence shows they provide no benefit and, in some cases, can lead to harm.

“We do this by promoting the latest recommendations on managing specific health concerns from Australia’s medical experts. It’s also about fostering better conversations between healthcare professionals and their patients around care options, based on the most up-to-date evidence.”

Choosing Wisely Australia launched with six member organisations from Australia’s specialist medical colleges, societies and associations releasing 26 recommendations. This has grown to 28 (more than 70% of medical colleges) with 123 recommendations published.

Dr Weekes said: “This strong engagement by the medical profession in parallel with national and state-based consumer health advocacy groups demonstrates a real appetite in the community for a national discourse on the appropriate, safe and effective use of the country’s health resources.

“We also know navigating the health system and the myriad of tests, treatments and procedure options available to consumers is challenging, but their inappropriate use could cause people stress, or even unnecessary harm.

“With this in mind we have been promoting a popular resource for consumers titled ‘5 Questions to ask your doctor before you get any test, treatment or procedure’, as well as a guide to planning your next medical appointment.”

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Read the Choosing Wisely in Australia 2016 Report

Download as PDF


Last reviewed 15 December 2016

Choosing Wisely Australia members and supporters