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Comment & Response
August 14, 2013

The Role of Persuasion

Author Affiliations
  • 1Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Minneapolis, Minnesota
JAMA. 2013;310(6):646-647. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.8516

To the Editor In their recent Viewpoint, Drs Shaw and Elger1 argued that persuasion plays an important role in communication with patients. They proposed that it is appropriate for physicians to use persuasion when it reduces preexisting biases but inappropriate when it creates bias. Although we also believe that persuasion is a critical component of communication, we disagree with the assertion that bias necessarily adversely affects the decisions made by patients and should therefore always be minimized. A large body of research has demonstrated that biased strategies in some contexts, such as choosing the most easily recognized option (recognition heuristic) or choosing based on one important attribute (take the best heuristic), lead to better decisions than more systematic unbiased approaches.2