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author:("amman, Olga C")
1.  Understanding and using comparative healthcare information; the effect of the amount of information and consumer characteristics and skills 
Background
Consumers are increasingly exposed to comparative healthcare information (information about the quality of different healthcare providers). Partly because of its complexity, the use of this information has been limited. The objective of this study was to examine how the amount of presented information influences the comprehension and use of comparative healthcare information when important consumer characteristics and skills are taken into account.
Methods
In this randomized controlled experiment, comparative information on total hip or knee surgery was used as a test case. An online survey was distributed among 800 members of the NIVEL Insurants Panel and 76 hip- or knee surgery patients. Participants were assigned to one of four subgroups, who were shown 3, 7, 11 or 15 quality aspects of three hospitals. We conducted Kruskall-Wallis tests, Chi-square tests and hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses to examine relationships between the amount of information and consumer characteristics and skills (literacy, numeracy, active choice behaviour) on one hand, and outcome measures related to effectively using information (comprehension, perceived usefulness of information, hospital choice, ease of making a choice) on the other hand.
Results
414 people (47%) participated. Regression analysis showed that the amount of information slightly influenced the comprehension and the perceived usefulness of comparative healthcare information. It did not affect consumers’ hospital choice and ease of making this choice. Consumer characteristics (especially age) and skills (especially literacy) were the most important factors affecting the comprehension of information and the ease of making a hospital choice. For the perceived usefulness of comparative information, active choice behaviour was the most influencing factor.
Conclusion
The effects of the amount of information were not unambiguous. It remains unclear what the ideal amount of quality information to be presented would be. Reducing the amount of information will probably not automatically result in more effective use of comparative healthcare information by consumers. More important, consumer characteristics and skills appeared to be more influential factors contributing to information comprehension and use. Consequently, we would suggest that more emphasis on improving consumers’ skills is needed to enhance the use of comparative healthcare information.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-101
PMCID: PMC3483238  PMID: 22958295
Healthcare consumers; Comparative healthcare information; Amount of information; Sociodemographic characteristics; Literacy; Numeracy
2.  Different patient subgroup, different ranking? Which quality indicators do patients find important when choosing a hospital for hip- or knee arthroplasty? 
Background
Patients are increasingly expected to become active, critical consumers in healthcare. They can use comparative healthcare information presented on websites to make informed choices for healthcare providers. However, the use of this information has been limited so far. An obstacle can be that the information is not perceived as relevant by patients. Presenting only the most important quality indicators might improve the usefulness of this information. The aim of this study was to explore which quality indicators different subgroups of patients find important when choosing a hospital for total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA).
Methods
In this explorative, cross-sectional study, questionnaires were distributed to 265 patients who underwent or had to undergo THA/TKA. Participants were asked to rank the importance of three types of quality indicators: patient experience indicators, clinical performance indicators, and indicators about hospital services. We used random effects regression analyses to assess the relative importance of the indicators in different subgroups of patients.
Results
110 patients (response rate 41.5%) who underwent or had to undergo THA/TKA participated. Conduct of doctors, the presence of procedures to prevent adverse effects of thrombosis and information about the specialist area of orthopaedists were the most important patient experience indicator, clinical performance indicator and indicator about hospital services, respectively. We found a few differences between patient subgroups in the importance attached to the quality indicators.
Conclusions
This study provides a first insight into which quality indicators patients find important when choosing a hospital for THA/TKA, and shows that subgroups of patients differ in the value they attach to these indicators. More extended research is needed to establish the indicators that should at least be presented in succinct overviews of comparative healthcare information for patients choosing a hospital for THA/TKA.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-299
PMCID: PMC3268112  PMID: 22050686
3.  An International Comparison of Web-based Reporting About Health Care Quality: Content Analysis 
Background
On more and more websites, consumers are provided with public reports about health care. This move toward provision of more comparative information has resulted in different information types being published that often contain contradictory information.
Objective
The objective was to assess the current state of the art in the presentation of online comparative health care information and to compare how the integration of different information types is dealt with on websites. The content analysis was performed in order to provide website managers and Internet researchers with a resource of knowledge about presentation formats being applied internationally.
Methods
A Web search was used to identify websites that contained comparative health care information. The websites were systematically examined to assess how three different types of information (provider characteristics and services, performance indicators, and health care user experience) were presented to consumers. Furthermore, a short survey was disseminated to the reviewed websites to assess how the presentation formats were selected.
Results
We reviewed 42 websites from the following countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Sweden. We found the most common ways to integrate different information types were the two extreme options: no integration at all (on 36% of the websites) and high levels of integration in single tables on 41% of the websites). Nearly 70% of the websites offered drill down paths to more detailed information. Diverse presentation approaches were used to display comparative health care information on the Internet. Numbers were used on the majority of websites (88%) to display comparative information.
Conclusions
Currently, approaches to the presentation of comparative health care information do not seem to be systematically selected. It seems important, however, that website managers become aware of the complexities inherent in comparative information when they release information on the Web. Important complexities to pay attention to are the use of numbers, the display of contradictory information, and the extent of variation among attributes and attribute levels. As for the integration of different information types, it remains unclear which presentation approaches are preferable. Our study provides a good starting point for Internet research to further address the question of how different types of information can be more effectively presented to consumers.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1191
PMCID: PMC2885782  PMID: 20439252
Consumer health information; information display; decision making; Internet; international comparison; content analysis
4.  How do healthcare consumers process and evaluate comparative healthcare information? A qualitative study using cognitive interviews 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:423.
Background
To date, online public healthcare reports have not been effectively used by consumers. Therefore, we qualitatively examined how healthcare consumers process and evaluate comparative healthcare information on the Internet.
Methods
Using semi-structured cognitive interviews, interviewees (n = 20) were asked to think aloud and answer questions, as they were prompted with three Dutch web pages providing comparative healthcare information.
Results
We identified twelve themes from consumers' thoughts and evaluations. These themes were categorized under four important areas of interest: (1) a response to the design; (2) a response to the information content; (3) the use of the information, and (4) the purpose of the information.
Conclusion
Several barriers to an effective use of comparative healthcare information were identified, such as too much information and the ambiguity of terms presented on websites. Particularly important for future research is the question of how comparative healthcare information can be integrated with alternative information, such as patient reviews on the Internet. Furthermore, the readability of quality of care concepts is an issue that needs further attention, both from websites and communication experts.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-423
PMCID: PMC2785792  PMID: 19930564

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