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Engaging Physicians and Consumers in Conversations About Treatment Overuse and Waste: A Short History of the Choosing Wisely Campaign

Wolfson, Daniel MHSA; Santa, John MD, MPH; Slass, Lorie MA

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000270

Wise management of health care resources is a core tenet of medical professionalism. To support physicians in fulfilling this responsibility and to engage patients in discussions about unnecessary care, tests, and procedures, in April 2012 the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, Consumer Reports, and nine medical specialty societies launched the Choosing Wisely campaign. The authors describe the rationale for and history of the campaign, its structure and approach in terms of engaging both physicians and patients, lessons learned, and future steps.

In developing the Choosing Wisely campaign, the specialty societies each developed lists of five tests and procedures that physicians and patients should question. Over 50 specialty societies have developed more than 250 evidence-based recommendations, some of which Consumer Reports has “translated” into consumer-friendly language and helped disseminate to tens of millions of consumers. A number of delivery systems, specialty societies, state medical societies, and regional health collaboratives are also advancing the campaign’s recommendations. The campaign’s success lies in its unique focus on professional values and patient–physician conversations to reduce unnecessary care. Measurement and evaluation of the campaign’s impact on attitudinal and behavioral change is needed.

Author Information

Mr. Wolfson is executive vice president and chief operating officer, American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Santa is medical director, Consumer Reports Health, Yonkers, New York.

Ms. Slass is senior vice president of communications, ABIM and ABIM Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Mr. Wolfson, ABIM Foundation, 510 Walnut St., Suite 1700, Philadelphia, PA 19106; telephone: (215) 446-3616; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges