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Medical Decision Making

Modern health care has supplanted the doctor-knows-best mentality with more patient autonomy, which requires patients to make decisions that reflects their values and desires. Patients’ lack of medical training to drive treatment decisions raises ethical challenges.

Current Projects

A Pilot Study of Providing Patients with Personalized Risk Information Regarding Colorectal Cancer Screening (PI:  Peter Schwartz)

Completed Projects

Giving Patients Quantitative Information about the Risks of Colorectal Cancer and the Benefits of Screening: A Randomized Trial of a Computer-based Presentation (PI: Peter H. Schwartz)


  • 2009
    Schwartz PH. Disclosure and rationality: comparative risk information and decision-making about prevention. Theor Med Bioeth. 2009;30(3):199-213.
  • 2011
    Schwartz PH. Questioning the Quantitative Imperative: Decision Aids, Prevention, and the Ethics of Disclosure. Hastings Center Report 2011;41(2): 30-39.
  • 2013
    Schwartz, PH, Edenberg, E, Barrett PR, Perkins SM, Meslin EM, Imperiale TF.  Patient understanding of benefits, risks, and alternatives to screening colonoscopy. Fam Med. 2013 Feb;45(2):83-9.

    Torke, AM, Schwartz, PH, Holtz LR, Montz K, Sachs GA.  Older adults and forgoing cancer screening:  “I think it would be strange.”  JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Apr 8;173(7):526-31. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.2903.  PMID:  2347883.

    Torke AM, Schwartz PH, Holtz LR, Montz K, Sachs, GA. Caregiver perspectives on cancer screening for persons with dementia: “Why put them through it?” J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013;6(8):1309-1314.

  • 2014
    Schwartz PH.  Do the numbers help patients decide:  Ethical and empirical challenges for evaluating the impact of quantitative information.  In Numerical Reasoning in Judgements and Decision Making About Health, eds. B. Anderson and J. Schulkin, Cambridge:  Cambridge Univ. Press. Pp 252-280.

    Schwartz PH.  Small tumors as risk factors not disease.  In Philosophy of Science. 2014; 81(5): 986-998.