Improving Patient Decision-Making in Health Care Series

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

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)