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Worry, Risk Perceptions, and the Willingness to Act to Reduce Medical Errors (ICPSR 34649)

Principal Investigator(s): Peters, Ellen, Decision Research; Hibbard, Judy, University of Oregon; Slovic, Paul, Decision Research


This study examined the role of worry and risk perception on action taken to prevent medical errors. The research used psychometric scaling methods to produce 11 different measures on which patients judged perceived risk. All participants completed a two-part questionnaire, where the parts were completed in random order based upon eight versions of the questionnaire. Part 1 of the questionnaire examined whether worry was associated with fatality estimates of various causes of death including medical errors. Participants were given as a guide the number of deaths per year in the United States of a less common cause of death (appendicitis), or a more common cause of death (kidney disease). Respondents were then asked to estimate the number of deaths due to other health conditions and diseases based upon the guides they had been given. They were then asked how worried or concerned they were about each cause of death. In Part 2 of the questionnaire participants rated how likely they were to take different actions to prevent medical errors, and then evaluated specific medical errors a patient could experience in the hospital on different measures of risk. Participants also rated behavioral intention items and an item pertaining to government regulation. Finally, participants responded to a number of items assessing their reactivity to negative events. Demographic information includes age, marital status, gender, race, exposure to and knowledge of medical errors, current health status, education, hospital stay information, number of children living in the home, and three scale variables, the Behavioral Inhibition scale, Extraversion scale, and Stability scale.

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Study Description


Peters, Ellen, Judy Hibbard, and Paul Slovic. Worry, Risk Perceptions, and the Willingness to Act to Reduce Medical Errors. ICPSR34649-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-07-08. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34649.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34649.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • Agency for Health Care Research and Quality Grant (1R03HS011500-01)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    accident prevention, accidental death, AIDS, Alzheimers disease, cancer, diabetes, disease, health, health care, HIV, homicide, influenza, medical care, medical malpractice, patient care, perceptions, risk assessment, suicide, worry

Geographic Coverage:    Eugene, Oregon, United States

Time Period:   

  • 2002-07--2002-08
  • 2002-07--2002-08

Date of Collection:   

  • 2002-07--2002-08
  • 2002-07--2002-08

Unit of Observation:    individual

Data Type(s):    experimental data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Special collaborators for the Worry, Risk Perceptions, and the Willingness to Act to Reduce Medical Errors project include Paul Slovic, President of Decision Research, as well as Judy Hibbard, and Martin Tusler, University of Oregon.


Study Design:    For information on study design, users should refer to the Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook.

Sample:    Convenience sample

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Mode of Data Collection:    self-enumerated questionnaire

Presence of Common Scales:    Behavioral Inhibition Scale (BIS)


Original ICPSR Release:   2013-07-08



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