supporting Informed consumer Health care Decisions: Data Presentation viewpoints that Facilitate the usage of information in selection

Judith H. Hibbard

Ellen Peters

Decision Research, 1201 Oak Street, Eugene, Oregon 97401-3575;

▪ Abstract To make notified choices and also navigate in ~ a facility health treatment system, consumers have to have easily available, accurate, and also timely information, and also they must use it. Contradictory to the consumer-driven approach, however, the proof demonstrates the having wealth of info does not always translate into its being offered to notify choices. The challenge is not merely to interact accurate info to consumers, but to understand how to present and target that details so the it is actually supplied in decision-making. This file reviews what is recognized from researches of person judgment and decision-making and also discusses their implications for sustaining informed consumer choice. We delineate the species of decisions the consumers and patients space making, the barriers to using information properly in choice, and also draw upon the evidence for the efficacy of various presentation techniques to propose an initial framework for assessing and picking comparative info presentation approaches.

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Key Words 

customer health information; health treatment choices; decision-making.


The success of current health care policy aimed at regulating costs and also improving quality rests, to a large extent, top top consumers" ability to make notified choices. Increasingly, the policy focus is to tap the potential strength that informed consumers have in affecting the quality of individual care and the efficacy of the health treatment system itself. As soon as consumers are active participants in their very own care and also when castle understand and also demand high-quality clinical care, they have the right to be potent agents for change. Comparative power data on providers, wellness plans, nursing homes, and also hospitals are obtainable increasingly to the public. Encourage clinical accuse for dealing with many conditions are also accessible to patients. Come a degree never before possible, consumers space in a position to reduce the “knowledge gap” in between themselves and providers, and, in the process, increase control over their health treatment experiences and also health outcomes.

Recent health treatment cost boosts are increasing the relocate toward consumer-driven approaches. Employers space responding come escalating premiums through a strategy that shifts an ext costs to employees but additionally expands their wellness care choices (34, 36). The strategy is based on the assumption that, with better financial responsibility, employees will make better decisions because that themselves and their families with respect to health and wellness plans, providers, and treatments. Moreover, the assumption is that these new “empowered employees” will feel the influence of their decisions much more directly and also will be urged to make options that maximize worth in the type of both quality and cost. Supporters of this market strategy are spring to consumer to attain what managed care and employer purchase power have failed come do, namely, to regulate costs and improve quality.

This is a high order for consumers, and also regardless of whether or not they can provide on the cost and also quality improvements, they will be shouldering more of the health care cost burden. In addition, the included choices and also information to support those choices, if not well executed, might represent a burden rather than a boon to consumers. The consumer-driven technique raises the crest for consumers and method that offering usable information to assistance informed an option is essential.

Supporting educated Choice

To make educated choices and also navigate within a complex health treatment system, consumers should have easily available, accurate, and timely information, and also they need to use it. Contrary to the consumer-driven approach, however, the evidence demonstrates the having an abundance of info does not constantly translate into its being used to inform choices (25). The presumption that the provision of relevant info is sufficient to rise informed decision-making is as well simplistic. Info that can assist to support informed selection can likewise be one impediment come this same notified choice. Also when civilization are highly encouraged to make an educated choice, the use of the information around the accessible options can produce serious barriers that undermine these intentions. Without usable information and also an adequate expertise of choices and the implications of choices, consumers have the right to feel dissatisfied and also far much less than empowered. Medicare beneficiaries, for example, report gift overwhelmed by the quantity of info they receive around their Medicare choices, and, at the very same time, they room confused around the nature of those options (9, 19, 28).

The challenge is not just to interact accurate information to consumers, yet to understand how to present and also target that details so the it is actually offered in decision-making. What formatting, framing, or screen strategies increase the likelihood that information will be offered for choice? A considerable body that theoretical and also empirical work exists on just how individuals process and use info when do decisions. This document reviews what is known from these studies of person judgment and decision-making and also discusses their effects for supporting informed customer choice. We delineate the types of decisions the consumers and patients are making, the obstacles to utilizing information effectively in choice, and also draw top top the evidence for the efficacy of different presentation tactics to suggest an initial structure for examining and selecting comparative details presentation approaches.

CHOICES educated BY comparative INFORMATION

Consumers space often faced with options that call for them to compare two or an ext options top top information provided to them. These options are do in a number of areas including selecting the level and type of their health and wellness insurance coverage; selecting among providers, hospitals, education homes, and health plans; and deciding amongst diagnostic and treatment options.

While every of these types of selections is quite distinct, they every make similar demands top top the decision-maker. All are consequential choices, and also each one needs the usage of info that

•.includes technological terms and complex ideas;


compares multiple options on several variables; and


requires the decision-maker come differentially weight the various factors according to separation, personal, instance values, preferences, and needs.

In every of these choice types, the decision-maker is most likely in one arena where the selection is important however the info is unfamiliar, and the lot of info may exceed person information handling skills.


Although the consumer-driven technique assumes the the basic provision of info will be sufficient to affect consumer choice, the procedure of using data to inform selection is actually quite complex. To usage comparative information, consumer must be able to take in and process the information, correctly translate it, recognize the important determinants to combine into a decision, load those components in ways that match the individual"s needs and also values, do trade-offs, and bring all the determinants together right into a choice. Although these steps may sound easy enough, they tend to it is in burdensome cognitive tasks.

Consider, for example, the slim amount of info that is obtainable and need to be supplied in choosing amongst health plans. That is not uncommon for comparative performance reports of wellness plans to compare an ext than 15 to plan on 10–12 power dimensions. Other features concerning coverage, benefits, and costs must also be factored into the choice. When faced with this lot of information, consumers frequently feel overwhelmed. How much info can civilization reasonably process? How have the right to we notify without overwhelming and also bewildering consumers?

Conclusions indigenous a big body that empirical work suggest that we room “boundedly rational.” In various other words, although we are qualified of an excellent feats the intellect, our pundit capacity is however limited. At the time of a decision, we might or may not have actually the cognitive sources or the motivation easily accessible to carefully procedure every piece of info provided. As it transforms out, the integration of different types of information and also different species of variables into a decision is a very daunting cognitive process (32, 45). Decision-makers are able to procedure and use just a restricted number that variables in any one choice. As the number of options and also information increases, the capability to use every one of it in selection declines. Although our market economic climate assumes that an ext information is better, evidence from decision-making study demonstrates conclusively that an ext information does not always improve decision-making; in fact, it can undermine it (44).

Identifying and also choosing how to differentially weight factors and make trade-offs in selection are also difficult cognitive processes. Imagine if one were choosing among hospitals: One hospital was rated extremely on consumer satisfaction but only mean on steps of effectiveness and safety; a second hospital had actually high scores ~ above effectiveness and low scores on consumer satisfaction and also safety. Just how does one make such a trade-off? also when civilization think they room differentially weighting components in your choices, your actual selections often perform not reflect this (12).

The research studies from info processing and also human judgment studies display that when confronted with too much information to process or decisions that involve burdensome cognitive processes like trade-offs, people tend to take shortcuts to reduce the load (12, 48). One usual shortcut is to let a solitary factor dominate, leaving other important components out the the decision (27). So, for example, in a instance where a provider is much more conveniently situated but likewise has a poorer power record, the decision-maker might shot to solve this dilemma by deciding that one variable was much an ext important. The decision-maker can highlight this factor, while at the same time mentally minimizing the importance of the various other factors. Convenience, because it is an ext concrete and also understood, may get more weight in this choice over performance, which may be much less well understood. This makes the decision easier and also resolves the conflicting information. However, this shortcuts can undermine the decision-maker"s very own self-interest (8, 32).

Most presentations of comparative information are based upon the assumption that consumers recognize what is essential to them and where your self-interest lies. Because that example, the is usually assumed that people have fixed ideas about what is crucial in health treatment quality and also they can pick and also choose from among different performance indicators shown in a to compare report. However, both theory and evidence suggest that these presumptions are faulty (45). The concept of created preferences posits the when human being are in a instance that is both complicated and unfamiliar (such as that the consumers using health treatment information), they most likely do not have fixed ideas around what is essential to them. As soon as asked about their preferences, consumer will provide an answer, but those answer are created or “thought up” at the minute the concern is posed. These built answers room not stable and will vary depending on how the questions are inquiry or what details is provided. Result from emphasis group researches with healthcare consumers indicate that preferences are not stable, and also preference shifts have actually been observed within the time framework of a emphasis group (6, 7, 29, 37, 49).

An necessary implication that this theory is that once preferences space not stable, information presentation ideologies will have a significant effect on what info is to visit to and used. That is, when civilization are in a instance where they must sort with complex, unfamiliar, and also important determinants to do a choice, how that details is framed and also packaged will identify to a large degree what information is actually supplied in choice. Consumers using comparative health care information show up to it is in in simply such a situation. Together a result, exactly how information is presented might be as significant as what information is presented once attempting come inform an option in this arena.

How details is processed in Decision-Making

Information in decision-making actually shows up to it is in processed using two various modes of thinking: analytic and also experiential (3, 42). Both settings of thought are crucial to informing choices. The analytic mode is conscious, deliberative, reason-based, verbal, and fairly slow. It is the analytic mode of reasoning that we tend to take into consideration in ours attempts to notify choices, and also as a result, we may neglect the crucial influences the the experiential mode. The experiential setting is intuitive, automatic, associative, and also fast. It is based on affective (or emotional) feelings, and one that its primary features is to highlight info important sufficient to warrant further consideration. As shown in a number of studies, this affective feelings provide both definition and motivation to selection processes (1, 31). Marketers, who well know the power of affect, aim your ads to evoke one experiential mode of info processing. Ads typically shot to associate a product with positive affective images. Try to imagine a car advertisement without photos of freedom, prestige, sex, or power. Both modes of thinking are important, and great choices room most likely to arise when both experiential and also analytic modes work in concert and decision-makers think and also feel their way through a decision (1). Consumers need to take into consideration information carefully, however they likewise need to be able to understand and be motivated by the meaning that underlies the information.

Most decision research study has concentrated on the capability to think hard—the analysis mode; us propose the the affective information-processing central to the experiential mode might be critical to helping consumers comprehend wellness information and also make far better choices. By engaging the experiential handling system much more and/or reducing the analytic handling needed, we may be maybe to assist consumers navigate much more quickly and efficiently through complex decisions.

GOALS OF presentations OF to compare HEALTH care INFORMATION

What objectives are suitable for developing comparative information and presentation styles for consumers? towards what have to we it is in aiming? Clearly, we want consumers to recognize the information and be maybe to translate correctly what is presented. However in most situations we want to go beyond comprehension, come motivate consumers to usage the info in choice and to have the ability to assess the worth of the different data elements with regard come their very own goals, needs, and also preferences. Details presentation techniques need to organize factual information in stimulate to reduce the cognitive burden on consumers. By for this reason doing, we facilitate learning and thereby better enable the participant to usage that details as the basis because that sound decisions. A second requirement is to encourage energetic participation in the choice task by make the provided information interesting and relevant come the consumer. The customer must be encouraged to resolve the info for his or her very own benefit. A 3rd requirement is that the details should it is in used and also weighted in decisions in a means that is proper to the individual"s interests and needs.


In this ar we discuss three processes to enhance customer use that comparative details (See number 1 for a review of the conceptual model). First, simply lowering the cognitive effort required come use info in an option can result in its better use. This have the right to be excellent in a variety of ways, consisting of just reducing the amount of information important to process.

Figure 1

Second, consumers may absence an knowledge of what a selection might median to lock in real life. For example, a human being making a health plan selection may not have experienced challenge in obtaining approval to see a specialist, making it complicated to comprehend in any meaningful means what this endure would it is in like. Together a result, this human may no weight differences amongst health plans on this attribute. By helping people to have a better idea of what the actual suffer of a selection might be like, even qualities that are relatively unfamiliar (and because of this less comprehensible) may be load in choice.

Finally, because consumers will tend to rely on info that is an ext salient, information display screens can to mark the definition of the details that is much less salient on its own, and thereby do it much more salient and available in choices. This highlighting may likewise increase the viewed meaningfulness (or affective/emotional significance) of the information.

Each of these three process goals (lowering cognitive effort, helping human being to recognize the suffer of a choice, and also highlighting the meaning of information) can enhance customer use of information through certain presentation strategies. We start with the procedure of lowering cognitive effort and then proceed on come the other two processes. Together will end up being apparent, some information presentation strategies deserve to activate an ext than one of the three processes.

Process 1: Lowering the Cognitive effort Required

One that the difficult issues for consumers is the huge quantity of info processing essential to make an educated choice. The quantity of information alone can be overwhelming to decision-makers. Challenged with too lot information, and also often conflicting details such as in the risk/benefit trade-offs innate in many choices among treatment options, part decision-makers may identify that the effort required is no worth it. Other decision-makers might recognize that they are simply not capable of handling the info (11). In one of two people of these cases, the decision-maker might simplify his or her choice by no making that (and relying top top the condition quo), through relying top top the choice advised by a doctor or even a non-legal person, or by relying on only a subset that the obtainable information (8).

Cognitive burden deserve to be reduced in a number of ways, consisting of the use of computer-aided decision tools. Decision tools have the right to ease the load in decision by structuring the decision procedure and through highlighting the important factors for consideration. The decision task have the right to be damaged down right into smaller decision steps, and the computer can use the decision-maker"s own values and also preferences come differentially weight variables in a choice. A decision tool that makes use of a multiattribute strategy not just elicits the most necessary dimensions, however it likewise quantitatively worths those dimensions in the choice procedure based on earlier input from the decision-maker. Thus, a decision tool can lug out some of the burdensome cognitive work for the decision-maker.

Alternatively, an info intermediary who is acquainted with the details needed to make an informed choice can overview the decision-maker v the an option process, highlighting crucial information and trade-offs that need to be made while eliciting the consumer"s very own values in the process. Both the these approaches require substantial resources, either by offering staff come act as intermediaries or by committing sources to develop decision support tools the adequately attend to the requirements of the consumers within the specific domain. At the exact same time, both approaches additionally lower the initiative required of the analytical mode of thinking.

A 3rd approach, utilizing evaluability, concentrates on the visual display screen of information and is design to lower cognitive initiative by giving cues to transform the details to an evaluative good/bad scale (16, 17). Instead of having to think hard around how to advice information around an option, an evaluability screen reduces the analytical initiative required by offering these evaluations in a simpler form. The principle of evaluability is straightforward but profound. Information varies in the level to which the conveys evaluative meaning. Particularly in unfamiliar domains, we might not understand what a measure means (e.g., a measure of top quality of care, to express by the percentage of people satisfied through their care). Research study on evaluability demonstrates that also if we recognize the numbers used (e.g., a medication that has a 2% elevated threat of stroke) at some fundamental level, we may not have an emotionally or affective understanding of that (e.g., we carry out not understand how poor this elevated hazard is). And when details lacks emotional meaning, that lacks evaluability and also is no weighted appropriately in decision-making (43). We can determine definition through substantial effort in comparing and also contrasting easily accessible information. However, it shows up that consumers perform not constantly go to this extra effort and may rely instead on information that is a priori an ext evaluable. In health contexts, for example, money may be one of the variables that is most evaluable and easily understood, with various other variables such together quality-of-care procedures being far less evaluable and, thus, far less weighted in choice. As we will certainly review, however, the evaluability that information can be improved in a variety of ways. By boosting evaluability, we deserve to lower the effort required that the analysis system. As we will watch later, we deserve to highlight the meaning of the information at the exact same time.

By transforming the evaluability the information, us can assist consumers transform data into systematic information and, by therefore doing, affect the level to i beg your pardon the details is actually offered in choice (12). These evaluability changes make every one of the information around a selection available in a basic good/bad type (so that consumers can compare apples to apples). This simpler information then influences the interpretation and comprehension the information about the choice attributes. By giving information in an explicitly evaluative form, it have the right to be used much more easily to advice the as whole goodness or badness of any one option.

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In current laboratory experiments v consumers, us examined the affect of make information around health arrangement choices an ext evaluable in two methods (12). First, us assessed whether giving consumers through health setup performance details using visual cues such together stars (★★★ = over average; ★★ = average; ★ =below average) caused a greater weighting of performance in choices. Second, us examined whether ordering health and wellness plans by performance within premium expense strata result in much more choices of higher-performing plans compared with presenting the details unordered. Numbers 2 and also 3 show different approaches to displaying the data. The much more evaluable data displays, bespeak by performance and the use of visual stars, resulted more often in the choice of higher- performing options. In the first experiment, the an option of the higher-performing option likewise meant selecting the most expensive plan. Those consumers viewing the more evaluable data display screens were an ext likely to select the higher-priced higher-performing option and also make the trade-off of greater cost for higher performance. The findings from these and also other experiments show that evaluable screens of compare data influence the degree to which info such as top quality of care is in reality weighted and used in choice.