The Modest Effects of Fact Boxes on Cancer Screening

50 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2020

See all articles by Michael Eber

Michael Eber

Harvard University

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

James K. Hammitt

Harvard University

Jennifer M. Yeh

Harvard Medical School/Boston Children's Hospital

Date Written: April 19, 2020

Abstract

As health care becomes increasingly personalized to the needs and values of individual patients, informational interventions that aim to inform and debias consumer decision-making are likely to become important tools. In a randomized controlled experiment, we explore the effects of providing participants with published fact boxes on the benefits and harms of common cancer screening procedures. Female participants were surveyed about breast cancer screening by mammography, while male participants were surveyed about prostate cancer screening by prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. For these screening procedures, we expect consumers to have overly optimistic prior beliefs about the benefits and harms. We find that participants update their beliefs only modestly and change their stated preferences to seek screening even more modestly. Participants who scored higher on a numeracy test updated their beliefs and preferences about screening more in response to the fact boxes than did patients who scored lower on the numeracy test. More-numerate subjects also seem to become more anxious in response to the risk information.

Suggested Citation

Eber, Michael and Sunstein, Cass R. and Hammitt, James K. and Yeh, Jennifer M., The Modest Effects of Fact Boxes on Cancer Screening (April 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3580343 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3580343

Michael Eber

Harvard University ( email )

180 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
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Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
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James K. Hammitt

Harvard University ( email )

718 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-432-4343 (Phone)
617-432-0190 (Fax)

Jennifer M. Yeh

Harvard Medical School/Boston Children's Hospital ( email )

300 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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