Sometimes do you postpone, or just not do, recommended blood tests… or eye exams, prostate exams or mammograms and similar preventive medical tests? First, you should know that this sort of behavior is common. You are not alone.
Here’s one significant example: about a third of people infected with HIV don’t know they are infected, because they never took the test (though they know they are in a risk group). They are missing out on a oral treatment that usually puts that disease into remission.Fear is a universal emotion. The trick is to deal with it, reasonably, and most people can do that. Recent research from the University of Florida (USA), along with a recent article in the New York Times give some ideas on how we can help conquer this “test avoidance” problem. The main cause is simple. Fear. People fear receiving bad test results, or bad news in general. True if you are a woman or a man, a doctor or a bricklayer.
Subconsciously we may think “Why should I go through something that’s time-consuming and uncomfortable when my only reward could be bad news.” And some people take a test, but don’t get the results; again, fear.
The University of Florida researchers ran several different experiments with 130 adults. In one, they asked the subjects if they wanted to undergo a test that would tell them of their lifetime risk of getting a (fictitious) endocrine disease, a serious one that could lead to early death. But a daily pill could treat the disease if diagnosed.
The 130 subjects were divided into two equal groups. One group was told to first contemplate the pros and cons of taking the test. They each wrote out three reasons they should take the test, and three reasons not to. The other half of the subjects did not undergo that preparation.
Then when the two groups were asked if they wanted to go ahead and take the recommended test, 80% of the group that spent time contemplating the pros and cons of the test wanted to take the test. But of the people that did perform the contemplation, only 47% wanted to take the test.
Dr. Amy McQueen, of the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis (Missouri, USA) says that it’s helpful to give people thinking about a test:
…the chance to slow down and think things through. They might be more willing to risk learning valuable information in a timely fashion…it makes practical sense.
Dr. Anthony L. Back, an oncologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine recommends: “We need to help people sit with the scary things in ways that will help them make really good decisions.”
Thinking in this way, to help, you might acknowledge that you are afraid of the possible test results. It helps too to tell that to a trusted friend. Think about the pros and cons. Then, advance your health in a more intelligent manner.
See also in ProcuraMed:
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)