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J Clin Epidemiol. 1993 Jan;46(1):77-84.

Framing and labelling effects in health descriptions: quality adjusted life years for treatment of breast cancer.

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  • 1Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE), Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia.


At present there is a growing interest in the use of cost-utility analysis (CUA) to a point where it merits serious consideration by health care decision makers. However, there remain a number of theoretical and practical issues to be resolved including the way in which quality of life information is presented and described to subjects. Two potential sources of influence in the construction of the quality adjusted life year (QALY) values elicited for a recent Australian CUA of mammography screening have been investigated. 180 subjects were randomly allocated to nine different presentations of two breast cancer health descriptions to investigate the impact of some framing and labelling effects. No statistically significant differences were found in the valuations placed on these descriptions when framing and labelling effects were taken into account, either as separate framing and labelling factors or as interactions with one another. A significant difference was found in the particular values of descriptions that were written in the third person that differed in terms of whether the word "cancer" was used. The main contribution of these data is to the robustness of the health descriptions used in the cost-utility analysis of mammography screening.

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