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Psychol Health Med. 2013;18(6):645-53. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2013.766352. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

The framing effect in medical decision-making: a review of the literature.

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a Department of Neurology , General Hospital of Beijing Command , Beijing , China .


The framing effect, identified by Tversky and Kahneman, is one of the most striking cognitive biases, in which people react differently to a particular choice depending whether it is presented as a loss or as a gain. Numerous studies have subsequently demonstrated the robustness of the framing effect in a variety of contexts, especially in medical decision-making. Compared to daily decisions, medical decisions are of low frequency but of paramount importance. The framing effect is a well-documented bias in a variety of studies, but research is inconsistent regarding whether and how variables influence framing effects in medical decision-making. To clarify the discrepancy in the previous literature, published literature in the English language concerning the framing effect was retrieved using electronic and bibliographic searches. Two reviewers examined each article for inclusion and evaluated the articles' methodological quality. The framing effect in medical decision-making was reviewed in these papers. No studies identified an influence of framing information upon compliance with health recommendations, and different studies demonstrate different orientations of the framing effect. Because so many variables influence the presence or absence of the framing effect, the unexplained heterogeneity between studies suggests the possibility of a framing effect under specific conditions. Further research is needed to determine why the framing effect is induced and how it can be precluded.

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