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Can personal health care narratives persuade people to use comparative quality information when choosing a physician?

Testing a Personal Narrative for Persuading People to Value and Use Comparative Physician Quality of Care Information: An Experimental Study
Authors: Jessica Greene, Judith H. Hibbard, Rebecca M. Sacks

The authors conducted an online experiment to test whether a first-person cartoon narrative that educated consumers about physician variation in quality performance could persuade consumers to value and use comparative information on physician quality performance. The cartoon narrative was developed by the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality as part of the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative. The participants were randomized to either view the cartoon character’s narrative, a brief text on physician quality variation, or a control group with no additional information. All participants were shown a display of four physicians, one of whom had the highest quality performance but was more expensive and less convenient. While there was no overall relationship between viewing the narrative or reading text and choosing the top-quality physician, higher numerate participants who viewed the narrative had 2.7 times the odds of selecting the top-quality physician. The results indicate that personal narratives can persuade people with high numeracy skills to consider quality when choosing a physician, and suggest that future research is needed to identify strategies to support those with lower numeracy skills in selecting high-quality health providers.

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