While academic research isn't written specifically for consumers, some papers produce or inspire useful lessons. (Click on the hyperlinks to read the original research, and see "This won't hurt a bit" for our longer story about health care.)
1. Learn which hospitals offer the best cardiac care. Cardiovascular diseases are the No. 1 killer worldwide; in 2008, they accounted for 30% of all global deaths. As Professor Chad Syverson’s research shows, hospitals vary widely in how well they treat heart attacks. Knowing the best nearby hospital could be a lifesaver.
2. Sign an organ-donor card. Research on kidney and liver transplants by Professor Bariş Ata, and Associate Professors Rodney P. Parker and Burhaneddin Sandıkçı, serves as a reminder that thousands of people die waiting for an organ transplant. In the United States alone, there are more than 120,000 people on transplant waiting lists.
3. Enjoy life now. Matthew J. Notowidigdo’s research demonstrates that people with chronic illnesses, which tend to increase with age, don’t enjoy their spending as much as healthy people. That doesn’t mean blowing the whole retirement fund—but it does suggest that postponing too much enjoyment during one’s working years is a risky strategy.