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Unravelling the concept of consumer preference: Implications for health policy and optimal planning in primary care

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Author Info

  • Foster, Michele M.
  • Earl, Peter E.
  • Haines, Terry P.
  • Mitchell, Geoffrey K.

Abstract

Accounting for consumer preference in health policy and delivery system design makes good economic sense since this is linked to outcomes, quality of care and cost control. Probability trade-off methods are commonly used in policy evaluation, marketing and economics. Increasingly applied to health matters, the trade-off preference model has indicated that consumers of health care discriminate between different attributes of care. However, the complexities of the health decision-making environment raise questions about the inherent assumptions concerning choice and decision-making behavior which frame this view of consumer preference. In this article, we use the example of primary care in Australia as a vehicle to examine the concept of 'consumer preference' from different perspectives within economics and discuss the significance of how we model preferences for health policy makers. In doing so, we question whether mainstream thinking, namely that consumers are capable of deliberating between rival strategies and are willing to make trade-offs, is a reliable way of thinking about preferences given the complexities of the health decision-making environment. Alternative perspectives on preference can assist health policy makers and health providers by generating more precise information about the important attributes of care that are likely to enhance consumer engagement and optimise acceptability of health care.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Health Policy.

Volume (Year): 97 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (October)
Pages: 105-112

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Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:97:y:2010:i:2-3:p:105-112

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/healthpol

Related research

Keywords: Preferences Health consumer Choice Primary care;

References

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  1. Drakopoulos, S A, 1994. " Hierarchical Choice in Economics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 133-53, June.
  2. Schoen, Cathy & Davis, Karen & DesRoches, Catherine & Donelan, Karen & Blendon, Robert, 2000. "Health insurance markets and income inequality: findings from an international health policy survey," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 67-85, March.
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  8. Baker, Rachel Mairi, 2006. "Economic rationality and health and lifestyle choices for people with diabetes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(9), pages 2341-2353, November.
  9. Scott, Anthony & Vick, Sandra, 1999. "Patients, Doctors and Contracts: An Application of Principal-Agent Theory to the Doctor-Patient Relationship," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 46(2), pages 111-34, May.
  10. Scott, Anthony & Watson, M. Stuart & Ross, Sue, 2003. "Eliciting preferences of the community for out of hours care provided by general practitioners: a stated preference discrete choice experiment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 803-814, February.
  11. Alison P. Lenton & Amanda Stewart, 2008. "Changing her ways: The number of options and mate-standard strength impact mate choice strategy and satisfaction," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3(7), pages 501-511, October.
  12. Rowe, Gene & Lambert, Nigel & Bowling, Ann & Ebrahim, Shah & Wakeling, Ian & Thomson, Richard, 2005. "Assessing patients' preferences for treatments for angina using a modified repertory grid method," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(11), pages 2585-2595, June.
  13. Peter E. Earl & Jason Potts, 2004. "The market for preferences," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(4), pages 619-633, July.
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