Not surprising that people overestimate the benefits of early preventive screening, given that most patients are not provided hard numbers (either relative or absolute risk), earlier messaging on screening, the normal tendency in our society to have more information because ‘we can’, and the optimism bias:
“Most people would overestimate because they’re told about their benefits, but with no numbers…so why would you think that it’s going to be really low?” said O’Connor, who was not involved in the new study.
Doctors, nurses and others who communicate health information often don’t detail how much a given test or drug can help, but only say that people ought to have it, O’Connor told Reuters Health.
“I think it’s led to more people taking part in screening or availing themselves of preventive medication than would have been the case if they were presented the information in more meaningful terms,” said Dr. Ben Hudson, the new study’s lead author and a professor at the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“I would also be concerned that it’s led to people having over-heightened expectations of what these things can achieve, and that may lead to disappointment when the inevitable breast cancer happens despite screening,” he added.