Consumer decision support system

Consumer decision support system

AIHI - Australian Institute of Health Innovation logo

Project member/contact

Dr Annie Lau
Senior Research Fellow
T: +61 (2) 9850 2436

Project main description

Decision support systems (DSS) are designed to help people make informed choices about their health.  However, there are multiple factors that influence the way people make decisions, such as personal biases and external influences. We have conducted the first study that investigates the impact of cognitive biases on online information searching and decision making.

Set in the context of consumer decision-making, we found that:

  1. People may experience cognitive biases (such as anchoring and order effects) while searching for online information
  2. Biases experienced online may influence their decision outcomes, and that
  3. Attempts to “debias” information searching can influence consumer decisions and their confidence in those decisions

In addition, we found that feedback from peers can significantly influence consumer decisions. In particular, consumers who are not confident are more likely to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers.


  1. Lau, AYS, Coiera, E, Zrimec, T & Compton, PJ, 2010, 'Clinician search behaviors may be influenced by search engine design', Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. e25,
  2. Coiera, E, Lau, AYS & Magrabi, F, 2009, 'The changing nature of clinical decision support systems: a focus on consumers, genomics, public health and decision safety', Yearbook of Medical Informatics - Medical Imaging Informatics, vol. 2009, pp. 84 - 95
  3. Lau, AYS & Coiera, E, 2009, 'Can Cognitive Biases during Consumer Health Information Searches Be Reduced to Improve Decision Making?', American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium Proceedings, vol. 16, pp. 54 - 65
  4. Lau, AYS & Coiera, E, 2008, 'Impact of web searching and social feedback on consumer decision making: a prospective online experiment', Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol. 10, pp. 1 – 8
  5. Lau AYS, Coiera E. Do People Experience Cognitive Biases while Searching for Information? International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) Yearbook 2008. 2008;2008(1):24
  6. Lau, AYS & Coiera, E, 2007, 'Do people experience cognitive biases while searching for information?', American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium Proceedings, vol. 14, pp. 599 - 608
  7. Lau, AYS & Coiera, E, 2006, 'A Bayesian model that predicts the impact of web searching on decision making', Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 57, pp. 873 - 880

Project sponsors

Australian Research Council SPIRT grant, APAI scholarship, Australian Research Council Discovery Grant

Related projects

Personal Health Management System (

Mobile app for self-management and consumer engagement

Social Network Interventions for Consumer Health

Project status


Centres related to this project

Centre for Health Informatics

Content owner: Australian Institute of Health Innovation Last updated: 22 Jun 2020 1:30pm

Back to the top of this page