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Effective Communication to Improve Decision Making About Health Care Plans

Information source: Washington University School of Medicine
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Health Literacy; Health Insurance; Health Services Accessibility

Intervention: Plain Language (Behavioral); Plain Language + Visuals (Behavioral); Plain Language + Narratives (Behavioral)

Phase: N/A

Status: Completed

Sponsored by: Washington University School of Medicine

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Mary Politi, PhD, Principal Investigator, Affiliation: The Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine


The overall goal of the study is to better understand how communication strategies can help people make decisions about health insurance plans. This study aims to:

- (Aim 1) Examine currently uninsured individuals' understanding of terminology and

details of health insurance plans;

- (Aim 2) Apply three recommended strategies for communicating information about health

insurance plans;

- (Aim 3) Test the effects of these strategies in a randomized experiment.

Clinical Details

Official title: Effective Communication to Improve Decision Making About Health Care Plans

Study design: Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Subject), Primary Purpose: Prevention

Primary outcome: Knowledge

Secondary outcome:




Detailed description: First, this study will examine people's understanding of health insurance plan terminology and details through qualitative interviews with 50 uninsured individuals. These responses will then lead to the development of three communication strategies to improve understanding of health insurance plans: 1) plain language, 2) plain language plus visual displays and 3) plain language plus narratives. The strategies will the be pilot tested with 30 individuals to assess readability, clarity of language, and layout. The revised communication strategies will be tested with 280 individuals in a randomized experiment. Individuals will be randomly assigned to either a plain language condition alone, a plain language + visual displays condition, and a plain language + narrative condition.


Minimum age: 18 Years. Maximum age: 64 Years. Gender(s): Both.


Inclusion Criteria:

- Must be without health insurance currently

- Must have been without health insurance at some point in the past 12 months

- Must speak English

Exclusion Criteria:

- Currently has health insurance and has not had any lapses in coverage in the past 12


- Does not speak English

Locations and Contacts

The Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, United States
Additional Information

Related publications:

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Peters E, Dieckmann N, Dixon A, Hibbard JH, Mertz CK. Less is more in presenting quality information to consumers. Med Care Res Rev. 2007 Apr;64(2):169-90.

Hibbard JH, Slovic P, Jewett JJ. Informing consumer decisions in health care: implications from decision-making research. Milbank Q. 1997;75(3):395-414. Review.

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Kreuter MW, Wray RJ. Tailored and targeted health communication: strategies for enhancing information relevance. Am J Health Behav. 2003 Nov-Dec;27 Suppl 3:S227-32. Review.

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Hibbard JH, Peters E. Supporting informed consumer health care decisions: data presentation approaches that facilitate the use of information in choice. Annu Rev Public Health. 2003;24:413-33. Epub 2001 Nov 6. Review.

Politi MC, Kaphingst KA, Kreuter M, Shacham E, Lovell MC, McBride T. Knowledge of health insurance terminology and details among the uninsured. Med Care Res Rev. 2014 Feb;71(1):85-98. doi: 10.1177/1077558713505327. Epub 2013 Oct 24.

Starting date: April 2012
Last updated: June 23, 2014

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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