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Women’s and physicians’ utilities for health outcomes in estrogen replacement therapy

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Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) prevents fractures and relieves vasomotor symptoms, but it increases the risk of endometrial cancer. Previous studies and national prescribing patterns show that physicians are conservative in their approach to this therapy. The authors interviewed physicians and perimenopausal women to assess their utilities for the various health outcomes of estrogen replacement therapy. On all outcomes, physicians rated illness episodes followed by recovery as being closer to perfect health than did perimenopausal women. Physicians, in judging which outcomes were most important to women, estimated relief of symptoms above fracture prevention, whereas women rated fracture prevention above symptom relief. These results emphasize the need to assess patients’ utilities directly, particularly when utilities for the outcome of a particular therapy may influence the choice of a therapeutic regimen.

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Supported in part by a grant from the National Fund for Medical Education, #47/81.

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Holmes, M.M., Rovner, D.R., Rothert, M.L. et al. Women’s and physicians’ utilities for health outcomes in estrogen replacement therapy. J Gen Intern Med 2, 178–182 (1987).

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