Framing

January 12, 2017

Patient Engagement

Nash

Given how brief it is, this blog post from the Cardiologist pictured above carries several important messages.

One is a reminder about the importance of “framing,” i.e., the semantic backdrop against which information is presented.  For example, both study findings and common sense support the notion that patients respond much more positively to being told that they have a “90% chance of living” rather than a “10% chance of dying.” No great surprise there.

Somewhat more interesting is the related finding that when patients come to understand certain elements of population health, like the “benefits” of statin use, they actually become more disinclined to adhere to a prescribed regimen thereof.

Huh? Translated, if a physician tries to convince a patient to adhere to a statin regimen based on population statistics, compliance will be hard to come by. Reductions in risk are statistically small, while the personal cost and inconvenience of taking the medication is 100%. Therefore, it is far better to frame the benefits of taking the medication in terms of personal benefits for the patient herself.

Bottom Line. Framing is extremely important. In health care and in life. Amazing then how often communicators fail to consider choosing the context in which they present information more carefully!

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