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J Health Serv Res Policy. 2014 Feb 24;19(3):161-168. [Epub ahead of print]

Presenting quality data to vulnerable groups: charts, summaries or behavioral economic nudges?

Author information

  • 1Associate Professor of Population Health and Health Policy, Department of Population Health, NYU School of Medicine and Wagner School of Public Service, New York University, USA
  • 2Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, USA.
  • 3Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.



Despite the increased focus on health care consumers' active choice, not enough is known about how to best facilitate the choice process. We sought to assess methods of improving this process for vulnerable consumers in the United States by testing alternatives that emphasize insights from behavioral economics, or 'nudges'.


We performed a hypothetical choice experiment where subjects were randomized to one of five experimental conditions and asked to choose a health center (location where they would receive all their care). The conditions presented the same information about health centers in different ways, including graphically as a chart, via written summary and using behavioral economics, 'nudging' consumers toward particular choices. We hypothesized that these 'nudges' might help simplify the choice process. Our primary outcomes focused on the health center chosen and whether consumers were willing to accept 'nudges'.


We found that consumer choice was influenced by the method of presentation and the majority of consumers accepted the health center they were 'nudged' towards.


Consumers were accepting of choices grounded in insights from behavioral economics and further consideration should be given to their role in patient choice.

© The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions:


behavioral economics; consumer choice; health services; quality data

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