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Shaping patient treatment decisions with subtle use of the Framing Effect.

How Framing Effect can be used in HCP/patient conversations and DTP communications to influence patient treatment decisions.
ImageNewristics Image09 September 2019

What is ths Framing Effect?

Oftentimes, it is less about the information itself and more about how it is presented. For example, as a patient, how would you react if the doctor told you the survival rate for your surgery was 90%? Now, imagine he told you the mortality rate is 10%. Do the sentences evoke different feelings? Framing Effect explains why the way information is framed can drastically influence how doctors and patients respond to that information.

This applies beyond percentages too. A doctor could say that with the medication, the mortality rate was reduced by 1/3. Alternatively, he could say that the mortality was reduced from 3 in 1,000 to 2 in 1,000. Would the way that is presented change your mind?

Could Framing Effect be impacting consumer decision-making?


A frame of reference can change the way we respond to ideas or messages. In behavioral science, there have been experiments done where Framing Effect can change the way people evaluate products, services, or experiences. This change has even been measured quantitatively.

Frames present information in positive and negative ways or highlight it as gains or losses in the simplest sense. Frames also go beyond that and contextualize information like the value of a product or a decision, by putting it into a context. People pay different levels of attention to frames and that influences decision-making.

Frames draw attention to a specific perspective and trigger thought patterns by highlighting specific information. Looking at a glass as half full versus half empty is an example of positive and negative framing. Both perspectives are unique ways to evaluate the same information.

People change their decisions based on framing. When presented with 2 similar or equal options, people avoid risks with positively framed options and take risks with negatively framed options. They generally prefer sure gains but avoid sure losses.

How to leverage Framing Effect in Marketing

As a marketer, you can often leverage Framing Effect to your advantage. The topic doesn't matter. If you are trying to communicate X and people are not getting it, you can surround X with Y, put X next to Y, or use Y as a metaphor for X.

Let’s look at some brand examples:

Example #1
In an ad for Advil, NHL hockey goalie Henrik Lundqvist faced off against a rhino. The rhino explodes upon impact, turning into hundreds of hockey pucks that go flying into the air away from the goal. Framing Effect is used to dramatize how Advil can work on tough pain. The objective of the Framing Effect is to get the point across in a more intuitive and persuasive way.

Example #2
In another ad, this time for the COPD drug, Combivent, they are trying to drive home the point that when you have COPD even a few stairs can make breathing difficult. To illustrate this, they exaggerate the problem by using a frame in the background of steep stairs. The text overlaid reads, “When you have COPD, even a few steps can look like this.” This is a great example of using a ‘mole looks like a mountain’ in a relatable yet impactful ad.