Assembling the evidence: patient-focused outcomes research.
Wide variations in medical practice point to the need for better information about the effectiveness of medical interventions derived from well-conducted outcomes studies. The best outcomes research is patient-focused. The example of hysterectomy is used to illustrate the type of information patients need if they are to be active participants in decisions about their care. These decisions are complex, involving the weighing up of a number of potential risks, benefits and uncertainties. Patients as well as doctors need reliable summaries of the evidence to promote shared decision-making and to increase the chance of beneficial health outcomes.