Title: Risky business, healthy lives: how risk perception, risk preferences and information influence consumer's risky health choices

Speaker: Dr Jean Spinks, UQ Centre for the Business and Economics of Health (CBEH)

Time and date: 11am-12pm, Monday 1 November 2021.

Location: Room 14-522 Sir Llew Executive Boardroom

About the seminar

Consumer’s understanding of health risks is a key determinant of effective risk communication about health care options. Individuals make decisions about their health under uncertainty, yet the influence of risk perception, risk preferences and information processing has not been well researched in the health economics literature.

Here, a novel extension of the standard discrete choice experiment framework is developed to investigate the effect of risk communication by doctors, specifically to test if updated risk information introduces a discord with perceived risk, and any subsequent effects on consumption and health care decisions. In the experiment, consumers were asked to evaluate a basket of health service and lifestyle choices to lower cardiovascular risk in response to being told (hypothetically) by their doctor their actual cardiovascular risk.

While most individuals, on average, aim to lower their CVD risk to a level of 1.37 percentage points below the updated information provided, the response was asymmetrical whereby the response to a “negative risk change” (i.e., updated risk information was worse than initial risk) was greater than a “positive risk change” (i.e., the updated risk was better than initial risk). Further, we find evidence that risk perception, rather than risk preferences, are more likely to affect consumer health and behaviour changes.

We then extend the analysis to compare the stated preference estimates with revealed preference data, collected within a randomised controlled trial designed to reduce cardiovascular risks.

Given the global pandemic of CVD, our findings suggest there are public health gains to be made from personalised risk communication if it is better tailored to account for individuals’ risk perceptions and provides additional information that reduces any chance of risk miscalculation.

About the presenter

Dr Jean Spinks is trained as a health economist, pharmacist and a health systems researcher and has extensive experience across the three disciplines. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Business and Economics of Health (CBEH), University of Queensland. Her key research interest focuses broadly on the integration of medication use and medication services in primary care. She is currently leading an MRFF funded project to develop, implement and evaluate a new targeted medication safety intervention, with national partners including the Digital Health Agency, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Brisbane South PHN, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCCHO), MedAdvisor and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Other projects include the Indigenous Medication Review Service (IMeRSe), which is currently being considered for funding by MSAC, innovative pharmacist workforce models of care, and consumer preferences for medication services. She has also published in the areas of medicines pricing, complementary medicine use and the disposal of unwanted medicines.

Jean has worked in community and hospital pharmacy in Australia and internationally in the Asia-Pacific region, including in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Tonga. She has a PhD in health economics from Monash University, post-graduate qualifications in public health and has undertaken the two-year Victorian Public Health Training Scheme, run by the Victorian Department of Human Services.


Sir Llew Executive Boardroom - West Wing (Building 14)