Rapid Evidence Review
Proliferation of online health information, trends in health insurance coverage, and new ways to communicate with health care providers are among the phenomena creating new opportunities and challenges for the individual health care consumer. It is increasingly important to understand how consumers wish to engage with the health care system and how best to support them.
This review, conducted over three months by AcademyHealth’s Translation and Dissemination Institute, examined the strength and scope of existing evidence on two dimensions of consumer engagement in health care: consumers’ interactions with clinicians and clinical settings and their use of information to inform health care decisions. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the review found evidence that many consumers wish to participate in their own medical decision making and that online health information can have a positive impact on consumers’ decision making among clinical options and, in some cases, on their relationships with providers. However, no one intervention stands out in areas such as increasing consumers’ trust in providers or promoting adoption of shared decision making among health care professionals. Further work is needed to understand how, why, and for whom promising interventions may be most effective, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities, individuals with low health literacy, and members of other historically disadvantaged groups.