The physician-patient relationship as a game of strategic information transmission

Health Econ. 2001 Oct;10(7):651-68. doi: 10.1002/hec.603.


We show that the intuition underlying the supplier-induced demand (SID) hypothesis is reflected in the cheap-talk literature from game theory, and in the credence-good literature from the economics of information. Applying these theories, we conclude that a neoclassical version of the SID hypothesis is only relevant for treatment decisions involving an expensive treatment that is equally effective in curing several states, but efficient in curing only some of these states (in that a cheaper treatment is efficient otherwise). For a simple game involving such a treatment decision, we show that a Nash equilibrium exists where the patient is able to constrain the physician in inducing demand, without the market for the potentially induced treatment failing. This equilibrium allows us to derive comparative statistics and welfare results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Game Theory*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Information Theory*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician-Patient Relations*