Declining Cancer Screening Rates Linked to Decision Fatigue

Jennifer Nessel, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School within the University of Pennsylvania suggests that cancer screening rates decline significantly as the day goes on. The researchers believe that the rates may stem from decision fatigue, which results from both the cumulative burden of screening discussions earlier in the day and physicians’ busy scheduling. 
According to the study’s lead author, Esther Hisang, the findings suggest future interventions targeting improvements in cancer screenings may need to focus on the time of day. 
“We believe that the downward trend of ordering may be the result of 'decision fatigue,' where people may be less inclined to consider a new decision after they've been making them all day. It may also stem from overloaded clinicians getting behind as the day progresses," Hisang said.
Investigators found that physicians were more likely to order breast cancer screening for eligible patients seen in the 8 am hour (64%) compared with patients whose appointments were at 5 pm (48%). These findings were also similar for patients with colon cancer, wherein tests were ordered more frequently for those seen at 8 am (37%) than those seen later in the day (23%). 

A version of this article was originally published by Specialty Pharmacy Times. Visit to view the full article.

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