Perceived cost of newly prescribed medication and supplementary diagnostic tests in the elderly: An experimental approach

Miguel Oliveira, António M. Diniz


Primary nonadherence to medical prescription is a notorious phenomenon among the elderly. The perceived cost of medication and supplementary diagnostic tests is a major factor driving prescription adherence decisions. To explore the way such factor impinges on the perception of prescription cost, two independent samples of elderly volunteers (medication, N=59; supplementary diagnostic tests, N=58) rated on a visual analogue scale specific amounts of money matching three proportions of income reduction of a fictitious patient. Both medication and supplementary diagnostic tests modalities of prescription showed participants’ perception of cost to notoriously vary in the 3% and the 30% proportions of prescription values to the fictitious patient’s income, but not in the 15%. Further, Different patterns of perceived cost response suggest that an element of intertemporal choice influenced cost perception. Participants’ income had had no impact on their perception of cost, contrary to the pattern of self-referent responses that “perspective-taking” approaches would suggest. Further, research would benefit from broadening these experimental settings to include other known factors impacting nonadherence along with cost.


Primary nonadherence, Perceived cost, Decision-making, Intertemporal choice, Numeracy.

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