Deciding on PSA-screening - Quality of current consumer information on the Internet
European Journal of Cancer , Volume 46 - Issue 17 p. 3073- 3081
Purpose of the study: Given that screening for prostate cancer has the potential to reduce prostate cancer mortality at the expense of considerable overdiagnosis and overtreatment, the availability of core consumer information - correct, balanced and supportive of autonomous decision-making - is a must. We assessed the quality of consumer information available through the Internet per November 2009 and its possible contribution to informed decision-making by potential screenees. Methods: Consumer information on PSA-screening was sought through the Internet in November 2009. Materials had to be targeted at potential consumers, offered by not-for-profit organisations, released in 2005 or after, in English or Dutch. Per material 2 of the authors assessed independently from each other whether standardised pre-defined topics were addressed, whether the content was correct and which approach was taken towards the decision-making process about uptake. Results: Twenty-three materials were included, of which 11 were released (shortly) after the results of 2 large randomized-controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effectiveness of screening for prostate cancer had been published in March 2009. That a PSA-test result can be abnormal because of non-cancerous conditions (false positive) and that it may miss prostate cancer (false negative) was not addressed in 2/23 and 8/23 materials, respectively. The risk of overdiagnosis and overtreatment was not mentioned in 6 out of 23. PSA-screening was presented as a usual thing to do in some materials, whereas other materials emphasised the voluntary nature of PSA-screening ('it is your decision'). The content of 19/23 materials was considered sufficiently informative according to the pre-defined criteria, 12/23 materials were considered supportive of informed decision-making by men. Conclusions: Most materials of not-for-profit organizations supplied adequate information about PSA-screening, whilst the degree of persuasion towards uptake reflected variations in opinions on men's autonomy regarding their own health.