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The Good Outcomes of Bad News. A Randomized Field Experiment on Formatting Breast Cancer Screening Invitations

Marco Bertoni ()

Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers from HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: We ran a population-level randomized field experiment to ascertain whether a costless manipulation of the informational content (restricted or enhanced information) and the framing (gain or loss framing) of the invitation letter to the national breast cancer screening program affects the take-up rate. Our experiment involved more than 6,000 women aged 50-69 targeted by the screening program of the Province of Messina in Sicily, randomly assigned to receive different invitation letter formats. Using administrative data from the Local Health Authority archives, we show that giving enhanced loss-framed information about the risks of not having a mammography increases take-up rate by about 25 percent with respect to all other treatments (no information; restricted gain-framed information; restricted loss-framed information; enhanced gain-framed information). Results are stronger for subjects living farther away from the screening site. For them, the manipulation may indicate higher perceived risks of negative outcomes that makes it worthwhile to participate in the screening program, in spite of longer travel time.

Keywords: screening; breast cancer; randomized field experiment; framing; information disclosure; nudging (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 H51 I11 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-hea
Date: 2017-11
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