Research Report

In early 2014, the ABIM Foundation, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, commissioned a survey conducted by PerryUndem Research/Communication to explore physician attitudes regarding the overuse of medical services in the United States.

The research found that 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.

The survey also found 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.

Additional survey findings include:

  • 73 percent of physicians say the frequency of unnecessary tests and procedures is a very or somewhat serious problem.
  • 66 percent of physicians feel they have a great deal of responsibility to make sure their patients avoid unnecessary tests and procedures.
  • 53 percent of physicians say that even if they know a medical test is unnecessary, they order it if a patient insists.
  • 58 percent of physicians say they are in the best position to address the problem, with the government as a distant second (15%).
  • 72 percent of physicians say the average medical doctor prescribes an unnecessary test or procedure at least once a week.
  • 47 percent of physicians say their patients ask for an unnecessary test or procedure at least once a week.
  • 70 percent of physicians say that after they speak with a patient about why a test or procedure is unnecessary, the patient often avoids it.

Learn more about the results in the summary research report. Full topline results and information on the methodology are also available.

Questions from this survey cannot be reused without express consent from the ABIM Foundation. Contact us for more information.