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Milbank Q. 1997;75(3):395-414.

Informing consumer decisions in health care: implications from decision-making research.

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  • 1University of Oregon, Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management, Eugene 97403-1209, USA.


Despite the wider dissemination of health plan report cards, little is known about whether consumers will use this information in making plan and provider choices. Studies of human judgment and decision making are reviewed, as are their implications for devising strategies to inform consumers. The limitations of human information processing suggest that many consumers will not use performance information in making choices. Strategies are needed to support consumers who prefer to rely on intermediaries as well as those who wish to apply the information for their own use. Many current strategies are based on assumptions not supported by existing decision-making research. Although there is much to learn about assisting consumers in making informed choices, a great deal is known from decision-making research. Our approaches and our research agenda must be based on this existing foundation of knowledge.

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