Blalock Receives Grant to Study RA Medication Risk Communication
Susan Blalock, PhD, an associate professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, has received a two-year grant from the American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation for a study that could help improve rheumatoid arthritis patients’ understanding of medication risks.
This $400,000 grant will support an investigation of communication between patients and rheumatologists about medication risks.
“Medications play an important role in the management of RA,” Blalock says. “Previous research has shown that most RA patients want to be informed of medication risks, but that they currently have a poor understanding of these risks. Therefore we need to better understand how health-care providers currently communicate information about medication risks to patients, how patients process this information, and how this information influences patient judgments and decisions regarding medication use.”
A major focus of the study will be how patients extract gist from the verbatim information they receive from rheumatologists, Blalock says. She says the study will be guided by fuzzy-trace theory, which suggests that individuals typically make decisions involving risk based on their interpretation of the gist of the message rather than on a precise consideration of the probable outcomes associated with different treatment options.
The study’s findings, Blalock says, could help devise better ways for rheumatologists to counsel patients about medication risks.
“If our findings support the study’s hypotheses, it will contribute to a major paradigm shift in the field of risk communication,” she says. “It would shift the focus away from patient memory of the verbatim information they are given by health-care providers to their understanding of the gist that providers attempt to convey.”