(HealthDay News) — When patients are given personalized versus generic risk information, they are better able to make genuinely informed choices about undergoing screening tests, according to research published online Feb. 28 in The Cochrane Library.

Adrian G.K. Edwards, M.B., B.Ch., Ph.D., of Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 41 studies involving 28,700 people to evaluate the role of personalized risk communication in informed decision making about taking screening tests, primarily for breast and colorectal cancer.

The researchers found that, in three studies, patients who received personalized versus generic risk information were more likely to make informed choices (45.2 versus 20.2 percent). Overall, patients were nearly five times more likely to make an informed choice regarding screening tests (odds ratio, 4.48).

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“There is strong evidence from three trials that personalized risk estimates incorporated within communication interventions for screening programs enhance informed choices. However the evidence for increasing the uptake of such screening tests with similar interventions is weak and it is not clear if this increase is associated with informed choices,” the authors write. “The results are dominated by findings from the topic area of mammography and colorectal cancer. Caution is therefore required in generalizing from these results, and particularly for clinical topics other than mammography and colorectal cancer screening.”

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