Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Rewording, Restructuring and Rewriting

I'm trying to write my latest paper to be published, but am struggling to get the balance right. When written for a dissertation it had a lot of basic knowledge that is just not needed when publishing into the current field. Anyway, that's my battle, but here is a little insight into my research:

Over the years medical decision making has evolved. There was a time when patients would just acquiesce to doctors orders, however in these modern times, the amount of control patients have regarding their treatment has changed, varying greatly between individuals. It is seen that it is generally the younger, more healthier patients who like to take a more involved approach, while others prefer a doctor to retain authority. For those who do desire to contribute to the process, the way a doctor gives the relevant information to the patient may play an important role in their decisions and future treatment plan. However, this is a relatively untouched area of research, giving doctors no help in meeting these expectations.

Past research has explored a description-experience gap in decision making. A doctor would normally make decisions from their own experience, and therefore lead to small probabilities being under-weighted, while patients would be basing their decisions on descriptions given by the doctors, leading to small probabilities being over-weighted. This can lead to conflict in the doctor-patient relationship.

My research re-examines this description-experience gap, which has been considered in numerous previous experiments. However, in the past, most of the research has been set in a 'lottery' type environment, whereas I want to move it into the medical world. Alongside this, binary outcomes have been the norm in this area, and again, I want to move away from this limited thinking, as there are normally a number of different outcomes, different side effects or range of improvements that have to be considered by the patient. Lastly, I aim to use new presentation format for doctors to be able to use with patients alongside a description.

Anyway, I hope that gives a little insight into my paper, and below is the abstract, for anyone interested :)....


Research regarding the description-experience gap is extended by the re-examination of four components. The first further observed the role of description when accompanying experiential presentation, while the second sought to add an additional dimension to opposing patterns seen between decisions from description (overweighting of small probabilities) and sequential experience (underweighting rare events). The added experiential condition of simultaneous experience controls for sample size and recency effects, and presents a matrix of outcomes precisely representing outcome probabilities. The third considered complex decision making, with options having 4 or 5 outcomes to consider and compare, such as seen in more real-world decisions, and the final aim was to examine the difference between these decision choices in altered context-frames. Study 1 was designed to equate to previous experimental investigations involving choices between lotteries, while study 2 was intended to inspect these differences in a real-life risk setting, and was situated in a medical context frame. It was found that in both studies there were differences between description and simultaneous experience, which followed a similar pattern of description decision makers presenting more risky behaviour. These differences were predominantly seen when the options were more complex and outcomes could not be directly compared, and it is suggested that in these cases, participants were more open to using the experiential information to aid decision making and consequently more susceptible to exhibit behaviour which underweighted small probabilities. It was also seen that participants implemented less risky behaviour when choices were observed in a medical context frame.

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