How psychiatrists inform themselves and their patients about risks and benefits of antipsychotic treatment.
OBJECTIVE: In order to choose the best treatment option, physicians have to inform themselves and their patients about both the benefits and risks of available treatment options equally. Our study aims to investigate whether psychiatrists actually do conduct such a balanced information search and presentation. METHOD: Psychiatrists' information search and information presentation to a patient with schizophrenia were studied using two separate experiments. In both, participants were presented with hypothetical case vignettes and descriptions of fictitious antipsychotics. RESULTS: When searching for information, psychiatrists looked more for risks than benefits of antipsychotic treatment options (t = -3.4, df = 74, P = 0.001). However, when informing a patient, they named more benefits than risks (t = 17.1, df = 224, P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: The risk-biased information search presumably follows the principle of 'primum non nocere'. The benefit-biased information presentation might be motivated by the wish to persuade patients to accept the proposed therapy.