Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making

DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

August 2014


Background Clinicians are encouraged to practice evidence-based medicine (EBM) as well as patient-centered medicine. At times, these paradigms seem to be mutually exclusive and difficult to reconcile. It can become even more challenging when trying to include the preferences of the patient’s family members. This paper discusses the basis for this quandary, providing examples of the real-world impact it has on diagnosis-seeking and treatment decision-making behaviors and how it might inform implementation of EBM practices.

Analysis To further explore the role of friends and family in health-care decision making and to understand how patients and families introduce other considerations that may or may not be congruent with a strictly EBM approach, data from two research studies that examined healthcare–seeking behaviors are presented. Both studies explore how family and friends not only can influence health-care decisions but also may be a source of conflict for the patient and/or clinician.

Conclusions Illness is a biological and social process. Clinicians who engage in EBM need to acknowledge the social and cultural factors that affect the health-care encounter, understand the important role of those factors in health-care decision making, and expand the paradigm of EBM to incorporate sociocultural influences more explicitly. Moreover, recognition of the influences family members and other caregivers have within the clinical encounter—by offering opinions and participating in treatment-related decision making—is needed and could lead to more efficient and effective health care.


© 2013 Siminoff; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Is Part Of

VCU Social and Behavioral Health Publications