Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

To Treat or Not to Treat: Evidence for Treatment Bias When Consumers Evaluate Physicians

Previous research has generally ignored whether consumers exhibit a "treatment bias" and have more favorable opinions of physicians who provide more treatment even if the benefits of more treatment are equivocal. This research experimentally manipulates three variables, (1) treatment choice (more tretment versus less treatment), (2) interpersonal treatment (patient involvement with treatment decisions), and (3) health outcomes, and examines their influence on respondent's inferences about the physician's ability, concern for patient welfare, quality of care, and accountability for patient death. Results clearly showed evidence of a treatment bias. Consumers made more favorable inferences about the physician in the more treament condition even though both physicians acknowledged that the less treatment option was recommended for the patient. Results also showed that consumers' inferences about the physician were more favorable in the better health outcomes condition. There was no influence of patient involvement on consumers' inferences about the physician.