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A new series of national public service advertisements designed to encourage consumers to get involved in their health care by knowing and asking appropriate questions when visiting their doctors or other clinicians was launched today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality with The Advertising Council and actress and health advocate Fran Drescher.

The new "Questions" PSAs, which were created pro bono by Grey New York, aim to encourage all patients to become more involved in their own health care by asking questions of their doctors or other clinicians. The ads feature people asking questions in everyday situations, such as ordering food at a restaurant and buying a cell phone, but clamming up when their doctor asks if they have questions. The television, radio, print, outdoor and Web ads direct audiences to visit a comprehensive Web site, http://www.ahrq.gov/questionsaretheanswer, to learn the 10 questions every patient should think about asking when visiting their doctor or other clinicians.

"Asking your doctor or other clinician questions about why you need a particular medical test, the potential side effects and the benefits and risks of those procedures will help you make appropriate medical decisions," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "We know that patients who ask questions receive better quality health care and get better results. This campaign continues AHRQ's ongoing efforts to improve the safety and quality of health care for all Americans."

According to a survey conducted by AHRQ and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 57 percent of Americans do not believe that preventable medical errors occur often. However, an estimated 1.5 million medication errors happen every year in hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing homes and pharmacies, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Actress and health advocate Fran Drescher is working with AHRQ and the Ad Council to encourage patients to ask questions. "Asking questions is an important part of getting the health care you need and can even lead to early detection of disease," said Ms. Drescher, who is a uterine cancer survivor. "I am an 8-year cancer survivor because I spoke up and continued to ask questions of my doctors, which led to my diagnosis."

The new "Questions" PSAs are an extension of the Ad Council and AHRQ's patient involvement PSA campaign that launched in March 2007. The campaign is one of a series of campaigns that AHRQ has worked on with the Ad Council to improve health care. Other AHRQ public education campaigns encourage men to get appropriate preventive care screenings and encourage Hispanics to take care of themselves by visiting a doctor to get preventive tests.

AHRQ funds a variety of projects to improve the safety of health care through health information technology, teamwork among health care providers and more. AHRQ has also worked with the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association to launch a campaign called 5 Steps to Safer Health Care and has published materials in English and Spanish to help consumers receive high-quality health care. AHRQ also produces the annual National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report as mandated by the U.S. Congress.

"We are proud to continue our work with AHRQ to shed light on the critical role that Americans can play in improving their own health care by asking questions," said Peggy Conlon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ad Council. "These ads are entertaining, and we think viewers will recognize themselves—most of us are comfortable asking questions in everyday life, but not in a doctor's office. With these new PSAs, we will make patients and doctors more aware of the need to engage in a meaningful dialogue."

The Web site, http://www.ahrq.gov/questionsaretheanswer/, features tips for patients to become more involved in their health care, including a list of 10 questions everyone should know when they visit their doctor or other clinician. The Web site also features a "Question Builder" that allows patients to develop a customized list of the questions they can take to their medical appointments.

The PSAs are being distributed to 33,000 media stations nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council's donated media model, all of the new PSAs will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media.

AHRQ
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (www.ahrq.gov) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ's mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. AHRQ's research helps people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of their health care.

Ad Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies.


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