Intended for healthcare professionals


What do patients want of performance information?

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 08 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6955
  1. Ilaria Passarani, senior policy officer 1, scientific researcher2
  1. 1European Consumers Organisation, Brussels, Belgium
  2. 2Department of Health Organisation, Policy and Economics, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Maastricht, Netherlands
  1. ilaria.passarani{at}

Marshall and McLoughlin remind us that, especially in healthcare, there is no such thing as a rational consumer. Hence we are likely to take more time looking for information to get the best deal for a laptop or a plane ticket than searching for the best healthcare setting for our heart surgery. Information asymmetry and behavioural theories support the evidence quoted in the article suggesting that, so far, in those few countries where performance data are made publicly available, patients’ choices are not really influenced by them. More simply this can also be explained by the fact that in most cases patients are too sick, too old, or too vulnerable to seek this particular kind of “technical” information. Many are not literate enough to do it. Those who are in the position …

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