Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dixon, Mark A.

Second Advisor

Rehfeldt, Ruth Anne

Third Advisor

Koch, Darwin S.


Discounting is a behavioral analytic approach that focuses on the assumption that the value of a reward is increasingly discounted as the delay until or the odds against receiving the reward increase. Up to date, there are no studies that have looked at discounting with health care. The current study evaluated the relationship between increasing the cost of the emergency room and time willing to wait to seek medical attention for flu-like symptoms. A discounting task was given to 30 students at a Midwestern university. Results demonstrated that participants indicated that all participants demonstrated an Area Under Curve (AUC) value of less than .01, indicating that there were high levels of impulsivity. Correlational tests were conducted to assess response differences between gender, age and policy holder status. Overall, results demonstrated that as the cost of the emergency room increases, participants were willing to delay seeking medical attention. A hyperbolic function produced a strong fit for this study (R² = 0.95). Due to the population utilized for this study, most of the participants had available health insurance. A future extension of this study would be conducting this discounting task with individuals who do not have health insurance.




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