Impact of discussion on preferences elicited in a group setting
Brazier, John E
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes
Copyright © 2006 Stein et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Background: The completeness of preferences is assumed as one of the axioms of expected utility theory but has been subject to little empirical study. Methods: Fifteen non-health professionals was recruited and familiarised with the standard gamble technique. The group then met five times over six months and preferences were elicited independently on 41 scenarios. After individual valuation, the group discussed the scenarios, following which preferences could be changed. Changes made were described and summary measures (mean and median) before and after discussion compared using paired t test and Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test. Semi-structured telephone interviews were carried out to explore attitudes to discussing preferences. These were transcribed, read by two investigators and emergent themes described. Results: Sixteen changes (3.6%) were made to preferences by seven (47%) of the fifteen members. The difference between individual preference values before and after discussion ranged from -0.025 to 0.45. The average effect on the group mean was 0.0053. No differences before and after discussion were statistically significant. The group valued discussion highly and suggested it brought four main benefits: reassurance; improved procedural performance; increased group cohesion; satisfying curiosity. Conclusion: The hypothesis that preferences are incomplete cannot be rejected for a proportion of respondents. However, brief discussion did not result in substantial number of changes to preferences and these did not have significant impact on summary values for the group, suggesting that incompleteness, if present, may not have an important effect on cost-utility analyses.
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 2006, 4:22
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