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Are medical treatments for individuals and groups like single-play and multiple-play gambles?

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  • Michael L. DeKay
  • John C. Hershey
  • Mark D. Spranca,
  • Peter A. Ubel
  • David A. Asch
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    Abstract

    People are often more likely to accept risky monetary gambles with positive expected values when the gambles will be played more than once. We investigated whether this distinction between single-play and multiple-play gambles extends to medical treatments for individual patients and groups of patients. Resident physicians and medical students (\textit{n} = 69) and undergraduates (\textit{n} = 99) ranked 9 different flu shots and a no-flu-shot option in 1 of 4 combinations of perspective (individual patient vs.\ group of 1000 patients) and uncertainty frame (probability vs.\ frequency). The rank of the no-flu-shot option (a measure of preference for treatment vs.\ no treatment) was not significantly related to perspective or participant population. The main effect of uncertainty frame and the interaction between perspective and uncertainty frame approached significance (0.1 {\textgreater} \textit{p} {\textgreater} 0.05), with the no-flu-shot option faring particularly poorly (treatment faring particularly well) when decisions about many patients were based on frequency information. Undergraduate participants believed that the no-flu-shot option would be less attractive (treatment would be more attractive) in decisions about many patients, but these intuitions were inconsistent with the actual ranks. These results and those of other studies suggest that medical treatments for individuals and groups are not analogous to single-play and multiple-play monetary gambles, perhaps because many people are unwilling to aggregate treatment outcomes over patients in the same way that they would compute net gains or losses over monetary gambles.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 1 (2006)
    Issue (Month): (November)
    Pages: 134-145

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:1:y:2006:i::p:134-145

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    Related research

    Keywords: aggregation; fungibility; individuals versus groups; medical treatment decisions; multiple-play; repeated-play.;

    References

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    1. Alexander Klos & Elke U. Weber & Martin Weber, 2005. "Investment Decisions and Time Horizon: Risk Perception and Risk Behavior in Repeated Gambles," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(12), pages 1777-1790, December.
    2. Thomas Langer & Martin Weber, 2001. "Prospect Theory, Mental Accounting, and Differences in Aggregated and Segregated Evaluation of Lottery Portfolios," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(5), pages 716-733, May.
    3. Nielsen, Lars Tyge, 1985. " Attractive Compounds of Unattractive Investments and Gambles," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(3), pages 463-73.
    4. Ritov, Ilana & Baron, Jonathan, 1992. " Status-Quo and Omission Biases," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 49-61, February.
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    7. Read, Daniel & Loewenstein, George & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Choice Bracketing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 171-97, December.
    8. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    9. Fetherstonhaugh, David, et al, 1997. "Insensitivity to the Value of Human Life: A Study of Psychophysical Numbing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 283-300, May-June.
    10. Daniel Kahneman & Dan Lovallo, 1993. "Timid Choices and Bold Forecasts: A Cognitive Perspective on Risk Taking," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(1), pages 17-31, January.
    11. Schoemaker, Paul J. H. & Hershey, John C., 1996. "Maximizing Your Chance of Winning: The Long and Short of It Revisited," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 194-200, March.
    12. Baron, Jonathan, 1997. "Confusion of Relative and Absolute Risk in Valuation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 301-9, May-June.
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