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Med Decis Making. 1994 Jul-Sep;14(3):289-97.

Willingness to pay: a valid and reliable measure of health state preference?

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The development of methods to measure willingness to pay (WTP) has renewed interest in cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for the economic evaluation of health care programs. The authors studied the construct validity and test-retest reliability of WTP as a measure of health state preferences in a survey of 102 persons (mean age 62 years; 54% male) who had chronic lung disease (forced expiratory volume < 70%). Interview measurements included self-reported symptoms, the oxygen-cost diagram for dyspnea, Short-Form 36 for general health status, rating scale and standard gamble for value and utility of current health state relative to death and healthy lung functioning, and WTP for a hypothetical intervention offering a 99% chance of healthy lung functioning and a 1% chance of death. WTP was elicited by a simple bidding game. To test for starting-point bias, the respondents were randomly assigned to one of five starting bids. All health status and preference measurements except WTP (controlling for income) showed significant (p < 0.05) difference between disease-severity groups (mild/moderate/severe). WTP was significantly (p = 0.01) associated with household income, but other health status and preference measure were not. The measure most highly correlated with WTP was standard gamble (r = -0.46). There was no association between starting bid and mean WTP adjusted for income and health status. The test-retest reliability of WTP was acceptable (r = 0.66) but lower than that for the standard gamble (r = 0.82).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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