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Doctors Are Less Likely To Screen Cancer Patients Later In The Day: Study

Tuesday 14/May/2019 - 04:03 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by Ahmed Moamar
A new study suggests that physicians are less likely to schedule cancer screenings for patients during the latter part of the day، as the Technical Times said.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania sought to understand how the time of day can influence doctors' behavior when providing cancer screenings.
They examined medical data collected from 33 primary care practices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey between 2014 and 2016. This included eligible screenings for nearly 19،000 breast cancer and 33،000 colorectal cancer patients.
Decision Fatigue
The team found that doctors preferred to order breast cancer screenings at 8 a.m. (64 percent) than at 5 p.m.(48 percent).
As for colon cancer screenings، patients were more often scheduled at 8 a.m. (37 percent) than later in the day (23 percent).

Esther Hsiang، a researcher at Penn Medicine Nudge Unit and one of the investigators of the study، explained that the downward trend may be caused by "decision fatigue." Doctors may be less inclined to provide a new decision after they have been making them all day.

She said the behavior may also stem from overloaded physicians getting behind of their schedules as the day progresses.

Completing Cancer Screenings
Hsiang and her colleagues also looked at the likelihood for patients to complete their cancer screening within a year of their appointment. They also discovered a similar downward trend in patients' behaviors.
One-third (33 percent) of patients who had breast cancer screening at 8 a.m. were able to finish the procedure within a year. However، only 18 percent of those who had 5 p.m. screenings were able to do so.

Meanwhile، less than a third (28 percent) of those who underwent colorectal cancer screenings at 8 a.m. completed their appointments within a year. The figure drops to just 18 percent among those who were scheduled for screenings at 5 p.m. or later.

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