More than a quarter (29%) of U.S. adults report that they or a member of their family received a second medical opinion from a doctor in the past five years. In the majority of cases, this second opinion either confirmed the initial diagnosis or treatment (54%), or while different, did not change the treatment (16%). However, in fully 30 percent of cases where a second opinion was obtained, the diagnosis differed from the original, and as a result, the treatment or care was different from what it would have been without the second opinion.
These are some of the results of a Harris Interactive online survey of 2,137 U.S. adults conducted between March 4 and 8, 2005 for The Wall Street Journal Online’s Health Industry Edition.
Of those who received a second medical opinion from another doctor, half (50%) said that they obtained one because they wanted to have as much information as possible. Other reasons for getting a second opinion included:
* The diagnosis was very serious (38%);
* The doctor who made the initial diagnosis suggested a second opinion (34%);
* Was not confident about the initial diagnosis (34%);
* There were several treatment options to choose from (25%);
* Did not trust the doctor who made the initial diagnosis (16%);
* The initial diagnosis was confusing (13%);
* Health insurance required a second opinion (10%); and
* Some other reason (9%).
Of the 71 percent of all adults and their families who have not received a second opinion from another doctor in the past five years, the most common reasons for deciding not to get one were that they trusted the doctor who made the diagnosis (39%) and that they felt confident about the initial diagnosis. Nearly (46%) said that a second opinion from another doctor just wasn’t necessary.
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