How Do Individuals Apply Risk Information When Choosing Among Health Care Interventions?

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A sample of 3,201 Danes was subjected to personal interviews in which they were asked to state their preferences for risk-reducing health care interventions based on information on absolute risk reduction (ARR) and relative risk reduction (RRR). The aim of the study was to measure the relative weighting of different types of risk information under various circumstances. The effect of presenting questions, and of explicitly formulating RRR, was analyzed. A preference for increases in RRR was demonstrated. There was a stronger inclination to choose the intervention that offered the highest RRR if RRR was explicitly stated. Individuals with more than 10 years of schooling also demonstrated a preference for increased ARR, but only when facing individually framed choices. In a social choice context, preferences for RRR remained intact, but the magnitude of ARR had no impact on choices. Results imply that social framing may induce a propensity to prefer interventions that target high-risk populations. Those respondents who had received ≤10 years of schooling demonstrated preferences for RRR but not ARR, and no impact of social framing was observed.

Keywords: Absolute risk reduction; base-line risk; relative risk reduction; risk communication

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2003

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