How much can more medical information really move the needle on our behavior? That's the question Freakonomics Radio host Bapu Jena asks Stanford Health Policy's Maria Polyakova, an assistant professor of medicine, and her colleague Petra Persson, an assistant professor of economics in the Stanford Department of Economics. Both are faculty fellows at the Stanford Institute for Economics Policy Research. "As an economist, this is the kind of big thorny question I love. But, how do we answer it?" asks Jena.
Polyakova and her co-author on several papers, Persson, use data from Sweden, a country that is rich with data due to its universal heath-care system. Sweden also a randomized lottery system for medical school admissions, which has allowed them to compare family members of these lottery winners and losers and follow them over time to study their health.
Their comments come in at minute 6:50 of this radio broadcast.
Something as simple as, "Are you taking your medications?" could conceivably prolong a life.