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Behaviourally designed treatments that increase willingness to treatment from families with children suffering from autism spectrum disorder
  1. Francesco Bogliacino1,
  2. Israel Andrés Parra Forero2
  1. 1Escuela de Economía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia
  2. 2Escuela de Psicología, Fundación Universitaria Konrad Lorenz, Bogotá, Colombia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Francesco Bogliacino, Department of Escuela de Economía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Carrera 30 # 45–03, Bloque 311, Oficina 12B, 111311 Bogotá, Colombia; francesco.bogliacino{at}


Background Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong disability that is not well known by the general population and tends to be associated with social stigma; also, because it involves children, it may get highly emotionally charged. These stylised facts engender a number of possible heuristics and biases at the moment of deciding on following a treatment or looking for a diagnosis, which should be considered in the presentation of information. Using insights from Behavioural Economics, three treatments are designed to present the information regarding possible therapies.

Methods Between-subjects design with one level of variation. Interviews were performed with a convenience sample of 154 households from the metropolitan area of Bogotá (Colombia). The treatments include: use of default option, use of professional interviewer to illustrate the therapy and emotionally charged presentation.

Results Kruskal-Wallis test of the intention to be treated rejects the null hypothesis (χ2=22.14, p=0.00). The cognitive processing of the information is not a determinant, supporting the claim that genuine framing effects shape the choice. The strongest effect of the treatment with a professional suggests a key role for asymmetry of the information, which is confirmed indirectly through the postexperiment questionnaire.

Conclusions Bad healthcare decisions are not necessarily driven by lack of information. Asymmetric information (eg, delegating the decision to a professional) improves choices, especially when social stigma is involved. Cognitive processing of information seems to be less relevant than the framing effect.

  • Decision Analysis

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