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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern: Researcher Publishes Book that Examining How Cutting-edge Economics Can Improve Decision-making Methods for Doctors

Following a medical scare in which he found himself in an Israeli hospital with a chart marked FUO, or “fever of unknown origin,” Dr. Charles Manski began digging into medical decision-making.

Following his 1985 hospital experience, Dr. Manski — whose research spans econometrics, judgment and decision, and the analysis of public policy — saw another field that could benefit from his studies of uncertainty and its foundations in econometrics and statistics.

In is his forthcoming book, “Patient Care Under Uncertainty” (Princeton University Press, September 2019), Dr. Manski applies the tools of economics to medical decision-making, showing how uncertainty influences every stage, from risk analysis to treatment, and how this can be reasonably confronted.

“I think people like myself have something to contribute to evidence-based medical research,” said Dr. Manski, the Board of Trustees Professor of Economics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University and a faculty fellow with the University’s Institute for Policy Research. “But we better be very careful about it.”

Dr. Manski said his focus is decision-making under uncertainty regarding patient health status and response to treatment.

“By ‘uncertainty’ I do not just mean that clinicians and health planners may make probabilistic rather than definite predictions of patient outcomes,” wrote Dr. Manski in his introduction. “My concern is decision making when the available evidence and medical knowledge do not suffice to yield precise probabilistic predictions.”

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