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Can patients improve the quality of care they receive? Experimental evidence from Senegal

Kovacs, Roxanne J., Lagarde, Mylène ORCID: 0000-0002-5713-2659 and Cairns, John (2022) Can patients improve the quality of care they receive? Experimental evidence from Senegal. World Development, 150. ISSN 0305-750X

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105740


Providers in many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) often fail to correctly diagnose and treat their patients, even though they have the clinical knowledge to do so. Against the backdrop of many failed attempts to increase provider effort, this study examines whether quality of care can be improved by encouraging patients to be more active during consultations. We design a simple experiment with undercover standardised patients who randomly vary how much information they disclose about their symptoms. We find that providers are 27% more likely to correctly manage a patient who volunteers several key symptoms of their condition at the start of the consultation, compared to a typical patient who shares less information. Lower performance in the control group is not due to providers’ lack of knowledge, an incapacity to ask the right questions, or a response to time or resource constraints. Instead, providers’ low motivation seems to limit their ability to adapt their effort to patients’ inputs in the consultation. Our findings provide proof-of-concept evidence that interventions making patients more active in their consultations could significantly improve the quality of care in LMICs.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Health Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2021 15:51
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2022 11:09

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