Supporting informed consumer health care decisions: data presentation approaches that facilitate the use of information in choice

Annu Rev Public Health. 2003;24:413-33. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.24.100901.141005. Epub 2001 Nov 6.


To make informed choices and navigate within a complex health care system, consumers must have easily available, accurate, and timely information, and they must use it. Contrary to the consumer-driven approach, however, the evidence demonstrates that having an abundance of information does not always translate into its being used to inform choices. The challenge is not merely to communicate accurate information to consumers, but to understand how to present and target that information so that it is actually used in decision-making. This paper reviews what is known from studies of human judgment and decision-making and discusses their implications for supporting informed consumer choice. We delineate the types of decisions that consumers and patients are making, the barriers to using information effectively in choice, and draw upon the evidence for the efficacy of different presentation strategies to propose an initial framework for evaluating and choosing comparative information presentation approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comprehension
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hospital Charges
  • Hospitals, Community / classification
  • Hospitals, Community / economics
  • Hospitals, Community / standards
  • Humans
  • Information Services / standards
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Information Services / supply & distribution*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • United States