Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 2001 Nov;27(11):591-604.

Making health care quality reports easier to use.

Author information

  • 1Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management, University of Oregon, 1209 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1209, USA. jhibbard@oregon.uoregon.edu



Although there is evidence that consumers want comparative quality information, most studies indicate that consumers make limited use of the data in decision making. The reasons for the limited use appear to be the complexity of the information and the difficulty of processing and using the amount of information in reports. The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether there are approaches to reporting comparative information that make it easier for consumers to comprehend the information. Further, the degree to which consumers who have a low level of skill can accurately use that information when it is presented in a format that is easier to use was examined.


The study used an experimental design to examine how different presentation approaches affect the use of information. Participants were randomly assigned to different conditions and were asked to review information and complete a decision task related to using comparative information and making health plan selections. Two separate convenience samples were used in the study: an elderly Medicare sample (N = 253), and a nonelderly sample (N = 239).


The findings indicate that there are data presentation approaches that help consumers who have lower skills use information more accurately. Some of these presentation strategies (for example, relative stars) improve comprehension among the lower skilled, and other strategies (for example, evaluative labels) appear to aid those in the midrange of comprehension skill.


Using these approaches in reporting would likely increase the use of the comparative information and increase the efficacy of reporting efforts.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Write to the Help Desk