Explorations of the Effect of Experience on Preferences for a Health-Care Service
The standard assumption in economic theory is that preferences do not change as a result of experience with the commodity/service/event. Behavioural scientists have challenged this assumption, claiming that preferences constantly do change as experience is accumulated. This paper tests the effect of experience with a health-care service on preferences for maternity-ward attributes. In order to explore the effect of experience on preferences, the research sample was decomposed into three sub-samples: women pregnant with their first child (no experience); women after one delivery (single experience); and women after more than one delivery (multiple experiences). The preference patterns of the three sub-groups were estimated and compared. A Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) was employed for establishing the relative importance of the following attributes: number of beds in room; attitude of staff; professionalism of staff; information delivered by personnel; and travel time from residence to hospital. Socio-economic background variables (education, age, and income) were also considered. The basic findings are that preferences change significantly as a result of experience with the health event; that the effect of experience is attribute-specific; that the extent of past experience (number of deliveries) is irrelevant; and that the effect of experience differs by socio-economic status.
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