Despite the evidence supporting the medical and cost-saving benefits of preventative healthcare measures, consumers regularly choose not to adopt them. A new report based on research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by Pfizer Vaccines assesses why.
Through interviews with leading international experts, the report reviews the psychological factors affecting consumer and patient decision-making, in relation to their health. The report addresses what policymakers, public health campaigners and healthcare professionals need to do to mitigate these influences, with a particular focus on vaccination.
Report key findings and recommendations:
- Emotional and cognitive factors have a large influence on consumer preventative healthcare decision-making
- Policy makers, public health campaigners, and healthcare professionals need to be aware of these influences when developing policy and devising public health campaigns, and when making preventative healthcare recommendations
- There is a significant opportunity for policy makers and healthcare providers to draw on the information and tools provided by behavioural science to improve the participation rate in key preventative healthcare measures.
The Preventative care and behavioural science: the emotional drivers of healthcare decisions report considers the many factors influencing vaccination decision-making, as well as other preventative healthcare measures, through the lens of behavioural science and behavioural economics – the application of psychology to the decision-making processes of individuals and institutions. Key principles of behavioural economics have been reported to benefit healthcare management and lend themselves to understanding and addressing ‘non-rational’ influences on vaccination decision-making.
The report concludes with what needs to happen to address the gap between preventative healthcare theory and practice, and applies this specifically to the challenge of increasing vaccination uptake.
Prof Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UK concluded, “There is no single approach that will increase vaccination uptake among those who would benefit from it – multi-level interventions are needed appealing to people rationally, emotionally and taking into account prevailing cognitive biases.”
Dr Douglas Hough, Associate Scientist & Associate Director, Master of Health Administration Program, Health Policy and Management, John Hopkins University, USA said, “If vaccinations do their job, no one notices – no one says, ‘thank you because I’m not dead from small pox.’ Balancing data with stories is key. Patients may be swayed by data but more likely a good story. I’d suggest doctors show pictures… aim to really bring it home to the patient or the patient’s parent.”