Frequently Asked Questions

Founded in 2014, Choosing Wisely Canada is the national voice for reducing unnecessary tests and treatments in Canada. It is a clinician-led campaign that encourages informed conversations between clinicians and patients about the potential risks of unnecessary tests, treatments, or procedures. Central to the campaign are recommendations developed by national clinician societies that identify frequently overused tests and treatments that are not supported by scientific evidence and may unnecessarily expose patients to harm.

Choosing Wisely Canada is led by a team of clinicians and staff based at St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto), the University of Toronto, and in partnership with the Canadian Medical Association.

In addition to the national campaign, there are regional campaigns led by provincial and territorial partner organizations to help support local Choosing Wisely Canada efforts. Choosing Wisely Canada also partners with many other organizations who share a commitment to improving patient care and the health care system. Visit our about page to see all of our campaign partners

These are tests and treatments where strong scientific evidence demonstrates they are not helpful to patients in particular circumstances or may unnecessarily expose patients to harm.

Canadian and international guidelines say that seniors should not use benzodiazepines (sleeping pills) for more than 6 weeks of duration. These powerful drugs are intended for short-term use as long-term use can increase the risks for car accidents, falls and hip fractures. Yet, a 2017 study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that 1 in 10 seniors in Canada use a benzodiazepine on a regular basis.

National clinician societies conduct an independent review of tests and treatments commonly used in their particular specialty where there is scientific evidence of overuse or harm. These are reviewed by all specialties and become Choosing Wisely Canada recommendations.

Clinician societies consider the following when developing lists:

  • Scientific evidence does not support the particular test, treatment or treatment, or under certain situations
  • It is used frequently
  • It may expose patients to harm

Recommendations should not be interpreted as ‘never’ order these tests. Rather, they highlight the risks, harms and benefits to encourage a conversation between patients and clinicians. There are often safer options available that should be communicated to help patients make informed choices about their care. Choosing Wisely Canada encourages clinicians and patients to use the recommendations and campaign materials to make the best decision for the individual patient’s situation and preferences.

No. Choosing Wisely Canada is about reducing tests and treatments that can expose patients to harm. The clinician community is leading this effort to deliver high quality care and raise awareness about the harms of unnecessary tests and treatments.

Choosing Wisely Canada receives funding from the Canadian Medical Association, Health Canada, and provincial and territorial ministries of health.  The University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto also provide support.

No. Choosing Wisely Canada does not accept financial support from pharmaceutical, medical devices or any other life sciences companies.

No. Recommendations are developed by national clinician societies with input of their clinician members from across Canada and based on scientific evidence. Choosing Wisely Canada specifies the process by which these societies develop their recommendations, but not the content of the recommendations themselves. This approach ensures that recommendations reflect best practices for clinicians. Recommendations are reviewed each year by clinician societies so that they can be updated with the most recent evidence.