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AHRQ resource helps newly diagnosed patients

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a new resource that helps patients find and use reliable health care information to evaluate treatment options. Now You Have a Diagnosis: What's Next? is one component of AHRQ's broader agenda to promote health care quality and improve health care decisionmaking through research and evidence. This resource was developed in partnership with the Kanter Family Foundation.

Receiving a diagnosis can be both confusing and overwhelming, especially when a person is faced with a serious medical condition. In many cases, there is no one "right" treatment. To ensure the best possible medical care and to avoid unnecessary or even harmful treatments, it is important for patients to carefully consider their treatment options before deciding which course to follow. With this in mind, AHRQ and the Kanter Family Foundation have teamed up to produce a guide that can help patients find information on their particular illness or condition through the Internet, counselors, and advocacy groups.

In the guide, patients are encouraged to work with their doctors in developing treatment plans and to seek support from others sharing the same health concerns. In addition, the guide explains the four main types of research studies, how to find reliable health-related information, how to use that information in making a decision, and how to discuss treatment choices with a physician. Together, AHRQ and the Kanter Family Foundation are working to improve health care decisionmaking by providing patients with information based on scientific research; supporting development of a national outcomes database to be used by doctors and patients in determining which treatments work best for specific diseases and conditions; and encouraging the standardization of health outcomes data throughout the health care system.

Free print copies of Now You Have a Diagnosis: What's Next? (AHRQ Publication No. 00-0004) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse. Select to access the online version of this guide.

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