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Title: Too Worried to Judge: On the Role of Perceived Severity in Medical Decision-Making
Author: Colomé, Àngels
Rodríguez-Ferreiro, Javier
Tubau Sala, Elisabet
Keywords: Presa de decisions (Estadística)
Statistical decision
Issue Date: 9-Oct-2018
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Abstract: Ideally, decisions regarding one's health should be made after assessing the objective probabilities of relevant outcomes. Nevertheless, previous beliefs and emotional reactions also have a role in decision-making. Furthermore, the comprehension of probabilities is commonly affected by the presentation format, and by numeracy. This study aimed to assess the extent to which the influence of these factors might vary between different medical conditions. A sample of university students were presented with two health scenarios containing statistical information on the prevalence of breast cancer and hypertension either through icon arrays (N = 71) or natural frequencies (N = 72). They also received information regarding a preventive measure (mammogram/low-sodium diet) and the likelihood of a positive mammogram or a rich-sodium diet either when suffering or not suffering from the disease. Before seeing the data, participants rated the severity of the disease and the inconvenience of the preventive measure. After reading the health scenario, participants had to rate its difficulty, and how worrisome it was. They had also to rate the prior probability of suffering from this medical condition, and the posterior probability of it, provided a positive mammogram or a rich-sodium diet. Finally, they rated the extent to which they would recommend the preventive measures. All the rates used the same 1 (little)-8 (a great deal) scale. Participants' numeracy was also assessed. The scenarios differed significantly in perceived severity and worry, with the cancer scenario obtaining higher scores. Importantly, regression analyses showed that the recommendations in the two health scenarios depended on different variables. A model taking into consideration severity and worry rates best explained decisions in the cancer scenario; in contrast, in the hypertension scenario the model that best explained the recommendations comprised both the posterior probability estimate and the severity rate. Neither numeracy nor presentation format affected recommendation but both affected difficulty, worrying and probability rates. We conclude that previous perceptions of the severity of a health condition modulate the use of probabilistic information for decision-making. The roles of presentation format and numeracy in enabling patients to understand statistical information are also discussed. Introduction
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It is part of: Frontiers in Psychology, 2018, vol. 9, p. 1906
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ISSN: 1664-1078
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Cognició, Desenvolupament i Psicologia de l'Educació)

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