Framing effect debiasing in medical decision making

Patient Educ Couns. 2008 Apr;71(1):102-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2007.11.004. Epub 2007 Dec 27.


Objective: Numerous studies have demonstrated the robustness of the framing effect in a variety of contexts. The present study investigated the effects of a debiasing procedure designed to prevent the framing effect for young adults who made decisions based on hypothetical medical decision-making vignettes.

Methods: The debiasing technique involved participants listing advantages and disadvantages of each treatment prior to making a choice. One hundred and two undergraduate students read a set of three medical treatment vignettes that presented information in terms of different outcome probabilities under either debiasing or control conditions.

Results: The framing effect was demonstrated by the control group in two of the three vignettes. The debiasing group successfully avoided the framing effect for both of these vignettes.

Conclusion: These results further support previous findings of the framing effect as well as an effective debiasing technique. This study improved upon previous framing debiasing studies by including a control group and personal medical scenarios, as well as demonstrating debiasing in a framing condition in which the framing effect was demonstrated without a debiasing procedure.

Practice implications: The findings suggest a relatively simple manipulation may circumvent the use of decision-making heuristics in patients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Patient Education as Topic*