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Health Policy Plan. 2009 Mar;24(2):151-8. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czn047. Epub 2008 Dec 26.

How to do (or not to do) ... Designing a discrete choice experiment for application in a low-income country.

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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.


Understanding the preferences of patients and health professionals is useful for health policy and planning. Discrete choice experiments (DCEs) are a quantitative technique for eliciting preferences that can be used in the absence of revealed preference data. The method involves asking individuals to state their preference over hypothetical alternative scenarios, goods or services. Each alternative is described by several attributes and the responses are used to determine whether preferences are significantly influenced by the attributes and also their relative importance. DCEs are widely used in high-income contexts and are increasingly being applied in low- and middle-income countries to consider a range of policy concerns. This paper aims to provide an introduction to DCEs for policy-makers and researchers with little knowledge of the technique. We outline the stages involved in undertaking a DCE, with an emphasis on the design considerations applicable in a low-income setting.

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