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Choice of emergency health services: an experimental study

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This paper analyses whether a misperception of symptoms’ severity of the condition by patients can help explain inappropriate use of hospitals’ emergency departments by non-urgent patients. We implement in an incentivized manner an exploratory economics experiment to elicit the degree of severity of five sets of symptoms. We ask participants to indicate the more suitable health service for each set of symptoms, before and after revealing the true degree of severity. Results show that there is an overestimation of the degree of severity of some clinical profiles, and when confronted with the real severity of those clinical profiles, in only half of the cases is the choice changed to other health services. Although exploratory, this study provides insights into the role that the misperception of symptoms severity plays in explaining emergency department inappropriate use and, at the same time, the potential limits of a policy focusing on this factor.

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Paper provided by Núcleo de Investigação em Microeconomia Aplicada (NIMA), Universidade do Minho in its series NIMA Working Papers with number 65.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2016
Date of revision: Apr 2017
Handle: RePEc:nim:nimawp:65/2016
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