Physicians would guess right to suspect they're being second-guessed, not only on their diagnosis, but also on their treatment plans. Even so, far more times than not, patients participating in a national survey said they trusted their doctors and their opinions and didn't look elsewhere for a second opinion.
According to a recent online survey of 2,137 adults by Harris Interactive for the Wall Street Journal, 29% of respondents reported seeking a second opinion for themselves or a family member in the past five years. Most of the time, the second opinion confirmed the first diagnosis or treatment, 54% of respondents said. But when a second opinion was sought, 30% of those cases yielded a different diagnosis and treatment.
In a follow-up question in which multiple answers were possible, half of those who sought a second opinion said they did so because they wanted to have as much information as possible, while for 38%, the seriousness of the diagnosis prompted the action.
Lack of confidence in the original diagnosis was cited by 34% of those who sought a second opinion as the reason they sought it; one in four cited the availability of several treatment options; and mistrust of the doctor was suggested by 16%.
One in 10 respondents who sought a second opinion said their insurance company required them to do so while 13% said they were confused by the initial diagnosis.
On the flip side, 71% of those surveyed said they or their families have not sought a second opinion in the past five years. Of those, in a multiple answer question, 46% said that was because they simply thought a second opinion was unnecessary, but also because they trusted their doctor (39%) and felt confident about his or her initial diagnosis (33%).
Another 7% said they couldn't afford a second opinion while 6% cited the unwillingness of their insurance carrier to pay for another opinion. Four percent said there wasn't enough time and another 4% indicated they didn't know where to go as reason a second opinion was not sought.