Physician prescribing decisions: the effects of situational involvement and task complexity on information acquisition and decision making

Soc Sci Med. 1993 Jun;36(11):1473-82. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(93)90389-l.


This research utilized conjoint analysis and an analysis of information acquisition to examine the effects of situational involvement and task complexity on physician's decision-making process. The predictive accuracy of the linear model in predicting drug choice across situations was also assessed. A contingency model for the selection of decision strategies was used as a framework in the study. A sample of forty-eight physicians was asked to indicate their preferences and choices for hypothetical anti-infective drugs. Situational involvement was manipulated by telling physicians in the experimental group via the written scenario to assume that his/her decision would be reviewed and evaluated by peers and (s)he would be asked to justify drug choice. Task complexity was manipulated by varying the number of drug alternatives in a choice set. Results of the study indicated that physicians shifted from using compensatory to noncompensatory decision-making processes when task complexity increased. The effect of situational involvement on the decision-making process was not supported. However, physicians in the two groups were found to differ in choice outcomes and the attention given to specific drug attribute information. Finally, the linear model was found to be robust in predicting drug choice across contexts.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arizona
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Decision Making*
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Motivation
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents