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Using qualitative methods to understand the determinants of patients' willingness to pay for cataract surgery: A study in Tanzania

  • Geneau, Robert
  • Massae, Patrick
  • Courtright, Paul
  • Lewallen, Susan
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    Cataract is the leading cause of avoidable blindness in Africa. There are various documented barriers to the uptake of cataract surgery, cost being one of them. There is, however, little evidence regarding patients' willingness to pay (WTP) for cataract surgery in Africa and the best way to measure it. We conducted a grounded theory study in order to understand better cataract patients' WTP for surgery in Tanzania. A total of 47 cataract patients from three regions of Tanzania were interviewed. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The coding process involved identifying emerging themes and categories and their interconnection. Our study reveals that the main factors behind patients' WTP for cataract surgery are (1) the level of perceived need for sight and cataract surgery; (2) the decision-making processes at the family level and (3) the characteristics of local eye care programs. Our study shows that WTP concerns not only the patients but also their relatives. For most patients and families, the amount of $20-$30 is deemed reasonable for a sight-restoring procedure. It does not appear realistic for eye care program managers to charge the real cost of cataract surgery at present (about US $70--in Kilimanjaro). However, eye care programs can influence WTP for cataract surgery by providing quality services and by offering adequate counseling about the procedure. The qualitative findings enriched the interpretation of a previously reported quantitative survey and yield implications for both researchers and decision-makers using or relying on WTP methodologies in developing countries.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 66 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 3 (February)
    Pages: 558-568

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:3:p:558-568
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