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Question 12: Does it describe what would happen if no treatment is used?

What the question is about and why it is important

A good quality publication will include a description of what would happen if the condition is left ‘untreated'. It is important to be aware of the outcomes of not using any treatment so that you know what to expect and can decide whether not using any treatment is associated with an outcome that is important for you. 

Rating the question

The question simply requires you to rate whether any outcome associated with not using treatment is mentioned. The question is not concerned with the size of the risks or benefits or who is most likely to be at risk or to benefit from no treatment options. It is not possible to assess whether all the risks or benefits of each no treatment option have been described as this would involve checking against other sources.

Guidelines for rating the question:

  • 5: Yes - there is a clear description of a risk or a benefit associated with any no treatment option.

  • 2 - 4: Partially - a risk or benefit associated with a no treatment option is mentioned, but the information is unclear or incomplete.

  • 1: No - the publication does not include any reference to the risks or benefits of no treatment options.


5 rating:

‘You may decide that none of the treatments described would suit you and that you would rather wait to see what happens without treatment. Although your symptoms may cause you some discomfort and you may want to consider some pain control techniques, the condition should not worsen and there are no major disadvantages associated with not using treatment.’

‘Many women with Jones’ disease may safely put off treatment until there is no longer any chance of them becoming pregnant. However, treatment at some stage is recommended, as it becomes less effective after the menopause and there is a risk of lung damage if no treatment is used.’

‘This is a rapidly progressing, life-threatening condition and early treatment is recommended. Unfortunately, delaying treatment can result in long-term damage to the heart’