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Understanding Physician Decision Making: The Case of Depression

Janet Currie () and W. Bentley Macleod

No 24955, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Faulty physician decision making has been blamed for everything from medical errors to excessive procedure use and wasteful spending. Yet medical treatment is often complex, requiring a sequence of decisions that may involve trade offs between selecting the choice with the highest expected value or selecting a choice with higher possible payoffs. We show that the best choice depends on a physician’s diagnostic skill so that the optimal treatment can vary even for identical patients. Bringing the model to patient claims data for depression, we show that doctors who experiment more with drug choice achieve better patient outcomes, except when physician decisions violate professional guidelines for drug choice.

JEL-codes: I1 I12 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
Date: 2018-08
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