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Positively Aware? Conflicting Expert Reviews and Demand for Medical Treatment

Author

Listed:
  • Balat, Jorge

    () (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Papageorge, Nicholas W.

    () (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Qayyum, Shaiza

    () (Johns Hopkins University)

Abstract

We study the impact of expert reviews on the demand for HIV treatments. A novel feature of our study is that we observe two reviews for each HIV drug and focus attention on consumer responses when experts disagree. Reviews are provided by both a doctor and an activist in the HIV lifestyle magazine Positively Aware, which we merge with detailed panel data on HIV-positive men's treatment consumption and health outcomes. To establish a causal relationship between reviews and demand, we exploit the arrival of new drugs over time, which provides arguably random variation in reviews of existing drugs. We find that when doctors and activists agree, more positive reviews increase demand for HIV drugs. However, doctors and activists frequently disagree, most often over treatments that are effective, but have harsh side effects, in which case they are given low ratings by the activist, but not by the doctor. In such cases, relatively healthy consumers favor drugs with higher activist reviews, thus defying the doctor, which is consistent with a distaste for side effects. This pattern reverses for individuals who are in worse health and thus face stronger incentives to choose more effective medication despite side effects. Findings suggest that consumers demand information from experts according to the trade-offs they face when making health investments in the presence of adverse treatment side effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Balat, Jorge & Papageorge, Nicholas W. & Qayyum, Shaiza, 2017. "Positively Aware? Conflicting Expert Reviews and Demand for Medical Treatment," IZA Discussion Papers 10919, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10919
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marcella Alsan & Marianne Wanamaker, 2016. "Tuskegee and the Health of Black Men," NBER Working Papers 22323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dranove, David & Sfekas, Andrew, 2008. "Start spreading the news: A structural estimate of the effects of New York hospital report cards," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1201-1207, September.
    3. Leemore Dafny & David Dranove, 2008. "Do report cards tell consumers anything they don't already know? The case of Medicare HMOs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 790-821.
    4. Chernew, Michael & Gowrisankaran, Gautam & Scanlon, Dennis P., 2008. "Learning and the value of information: Evidence from health plan report cards," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 156-174, May.
    5. Coscelli, Andrea & Shum, Matthew, 2004. "An empirical model of learning and patient spillovers in new drug entry," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 213-246, October.
    6. Alexander L. Brown & Colin F. Camerer & Dan Lovallo, 2012. "To Review or Not to Review? Limited Strategic Thinking at the Movie Box Office," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-26, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    health; information; product reviews; pharmaceutical demand; HIV/AIDS;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • M3 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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