This study aims to assess the current status of shared decision-making on instituting postmenopausal hormone therapy (HT).
Two cross-sectional nationwide surveys of postmenopausal women and primary care physicians in the Republic of Korea were conducted in 2012 via face-to-face interviews. A total of 685 women (aged 50-69 y) who with natural menopause and 250 primary care physicians were included.
Only 56.8% of primary care physicians reported that they explain the benefits and risks of HT and leave the decision to postmenopausal women. The others usually recommended using or not using HT. Of those postmenopausal women who had discussed such therapy with physicians (147 of 685; 21.5%), not all were aware of breast cancer or cardiovascular risks (only 65.3% and 38.8% were informed, respectively). Although most physicians perceived HT as beneficial for menopausal symptom control (99.6%) and acknowledged the related risk of breast cancer (84.8%), nearly half had the impression that HT was preventive of cardiovascular diseases. The interviewed women were less informed of the benefits and risks of HT than were the physician respondents. The awareness levels of the treated and untreated women did not differ.
Participation of postmenopausal women in deciding whether to use HT is not prevalent. Physician-woman information transfer is suboptimal, and treatment decisions often are not based on the best available evidence. The current status of shared decision-making in this setting is clearly in need of improvement.