Many Consumers Lack Information Needed to Make Health Care Decisions, CHCF Survey Finds
Nearly half of California consumers generally lack sufficient information to make health care decisions, with an even greater "information deficit" among certain populations, according to a survey conducted by RAND for the California HealthCare Foundation. The survey sought to assess the need for health care information and barriers to obtaining such information. Conducted between November 1999 and January 2000, the survey interviewed more than 4,000 Californians and also focused on "difficult-to-reach and traditionally underserved populations": seniors, the chronically ill, the uninsured, low-income populations and Hispanics. Forty-six percent of survey respondents said they "sometimes or never" had the necessary information to make health care decisions, while 54% of people with less than a high school education and 58% of people in "fair or poor health" said they generally lacked sufficient information to make health care choices. The survey also examined respondents' relative concern about health and health care against other issues; the perceived difficulty of making health care choices; and whether people have sufficient information to choose physicians. CHCF made several recommendations based on the findings, including a suggestion that providers teach consumers where to find information on health care and how to use such information. In addition, the report said, information should be provided at easily understandable reading and language levels, and it should be made available through a "trusted organization" to increase credibility ("Consumers and Health Care Quality Information: Need, Availability, Utility", Oct. 2001). To view the survey, go to http://admin.chcf.org/documents/quality/ConsumersAndHealthCareQualityInformation.pdf. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download the survey.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.