Less is more in presenting quality information to consumers

Med Care Res Rev. 2007 Apr;64(2):169-90. doi: 10.1177/10775587070640020301.


Much effort has been put into improving measures of health care quality. Although early research suggested that consumers made little use of quality reports, most reports were based on nonstandardized measures and were not user friendly. Information presentation approaches, however, will have a significant influence on what information is attended and used. The present research examines whether information presentation methods differentially influence consumers who differ in numeric skills. Results of three studies support the idea that "less is more" when presenting consumers with comparative performance information to make hospital choices. Results were particularly strong for those lower in numeracy, who had higher comprehension and made better choices when the information-presentation format was designed to ease the cognitive burden and highlight the meaning of important information. These findings have important implications for the sponsors of comparative quality reports designed to inform consumer decision making in health care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Female
  • Health Facilities
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • United States