Improving Patient Decision-Making in Health Care Series

Dartmouth Atlas research highlights geographic variation in elective procedures across nine regions.

    • December 13, 2012

For many conditions, the treatment a patient receives can depend more on physician recommendations than patient preferences. A new series of reports from the Dartmouth Atlas Project suggests that when there is more than one option, where patients live and the clinicians they see also play a decisive role in the treatment they receive. The nine regional reports analyze care provided across the country, specifically focusing on trends in elective, or “preference-sensitive,” procedures.

Emphasizing the importance of choice in health care, the reports look at how Medicare patients differ in receiving treatments for early-stage breast cancer, stable angina, low back pain, arthritis of the knee or hip, carotid artery disease, gallstones, enlarged prostate, and early-stage prostate cancer. Researchers emphasize the importance of patients working with their health care team to make a shared decision based on the best evidence and their values.

Read the nine regional reports:

Learn more about the Dartmouth Atlas Project >

An Example of Regional Variation

Mastectomy rates per 1,000 female Medicare beneficiaries vary widely both within geographic areas, and from one region to another.

View the map (PDF)

News Release


Elective Surgery in the United States: Location Matters

Wide variation in surgery highlights role of patient preference in medical decisions.

Read the news release