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Article: Confirmation bias affects nurse/patient collaboration on breast cancer screening and treatment

Tuesday June 17, 2014
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An article in the February/March issue of Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses clinical practice journal Nursing for Women’s Health, describes how confirmation bias can affect healthcare professionals’ interaction with female patients on the topic of breast cancer. The article also provides guidance on how to help women make informed, evidence-based decisions about breast cancer screening and treatment.

In “Confronting Confirmation Bias About Breast Cancer Screening with the Four Cs,” Mary Elizabeth Guimond, RN, PhD, WHNP-BC, an assistant professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, said confirmation bias is the “tendency to resist evidence that doesn’t support our own beliefs,” and that these beliefs are often related to a personal experience with breast cancer. This bias is not limited to the general public, and includes nursing students and nurses who may question new guidelines on self-breast exams and mammography, according to Guimond.

Guimond developed the four Cs framework to facilitate difficult discussions when evidence-based practice is challenged. According to the framework, nurses should:

Commit to staying up-to-date with evidence.
Convey understanding.
Communicate the evidence and answer questions.
Collaborate with women on their plan for breast cancer screening.

The framework encourages nurses to be knowledgeable about screening, present evidence and advise patients based on their individual risks and concerns and the evidence. “Screening guidelines are ever-evolving,” Guimond said in the article. “Recommendations are susceptible to change. Decisions to screen individual women should be based on consideration of each woman’s risk factors and should result from mutual decision-making after discussion between the woman and her healthcare provider.”

The article also reviews key concepts related to the development of evidence-based guidelines and compares the latest guidelines for breast cancer screening from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, as well as other professional organizations.

“Nurses and other clinicians must remain aware of new and evolving evidence and be prepared to consider that new technologies may change screening recommendations in the future,” Guimond said. “Nurses who strive for currency in their practice through the use of the evidence are able to advocate for individuals, families and communities by disseminating evidence, answering questions and dispelling misconceptions. In doing so, nurses hold the power of information and support knowledgeable decisions about screening and assessing risks for disease.”

To request the full article, visit http://bit.ly/1jwQN9E


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