What Cognitive Science tells us About the Design of Reports for Consumers

by Mary E. Vaiana, Elizabeth A. McGlynn


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The health services literature contains many articles related to expanding and refining quality measures, but the rich body of empirical research on how people process information has rarely been applied to the challenge of presenting complex information about health care in ways that facilitate its comprehension and use. In this article, the authors review key findings from this research. Based on their review, the authors develop some general principles for presenting information and demonstrate their utility by assessing three Web sites that report performance data.

Originally published in: Medical Care Research and Review, v. 59, no. 1, March 2002, pp. 3-35.

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