Medical Ethics

Cash for mammograms is ‘ethically troubling,’ JAMA article says

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Summary: “Offering women money, paid time off, or other incentives to undergo mammography screening is ‘ethically troubling,’ contends the author of a viewpoint published in the September 8 issue of JAMA.

Summary: “Offering women money, paid time off, or other incentives to undergo mammography screening is ‘ethically troubling,’ contends the author of a viewpoint published in the September 8 issue of JAMA. A better idea is to offer women incentives for using evidence-based decision aids, irrespective of their ultimate decision for or against screening, says Harald Schmidt, PhD, from the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Patient health incentives are increasingly common and can help prompt health behaviors that ultimately lead to a longer and better life, Dr. Schmidt noted in an interview with Medscape Medical News. Take quitting smoking or losing weight. ‘If you achieve what the incentive provider asks for, you only gain health. But with breast cancer screening, you might get a false-positive diagnosis and receive treatment that you don’t actually need,’ he explained. ‘The decision to undergo breast cancer screening is really very complex, yet the idea has been ingrained that screening will detect all cases of breast cancer and they will detect them early and save lives,’ he noted.” –Megan Brooks, “Cash for Mammograms Is ‘Ethically Troubling,’” Medscape Medical News.

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