Nearly three out of four U.S. physicians say the frequency with which doctors order unnecessary medical tests and procedures is a serious problem for America’s health care system — but just as many say that the average physician orders unnecessary medical tests and procedures at least once a week, according to research by the ABIM Foundation.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the survey looks at physician attitudes regarding the overuse of medical services in the United States, and shows that more than half of physicians think they are in the best position to address the problem and have ultimate responsibility for making sure patients avoid unnecessary care. Yet at the same time, more than half the physicians surveyed say they’d give an insistent patient a medical test they knew to be unnecessary.

The survey comes two years after the launch of Choosing Wisely, a ground-breaking effort to encourage physicians and patients to think and talk about whether certain medical tests and procedures are really necessary for their condition. Since April 2012, 60 medical specialty societies have joined the campaign and identified more than 250 tests and procedures they say are overused or inappropriate. The effort has attracted significant attention in medical journals and the consumer press.

One in five physicians (21 percent) surveyed say they are aware of the Choosing Wisely campaign. Of those, 62 percent say they are more likely to have reduced the number of times they recommended a test or procedure because they learned it was unnecessary; this compares to 45 percent for those who are unaware of the effort.

The phone survey of 600 physicians nationwide was conducted February 12 through March 21, 2014, by PerryUndem Research/Communication. The margin of sampling error is: ± 4.0 percentage points.

To access the full research report including details about methodology, sampling, and the survey instrument used, got to ChoosingWisely.org.

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