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There is growing interest in the use of discrete choice experiments (DCEs) as a means of quantifying the perceived balance between benefits and risks of new healthcare interventions. For stated preference data on benefit-risk assessment to be used in decision-making, the methods to generate these data must be valid, reliable and capable of producing meaningful estimates. However, risk is a complex concept that is open to misinterpretation; potentially undermining the robustness of DCEs as a valuation method.  This seminar presents methodological research employing quantitative, qualitative and eye-tracking methods to explore (i) how robust the results of DCEs are to formats and methods of risk communication and (ii) how information in a DCE can be presented effectually to respondents. We find promising results for the robustness of DCEs when testing competing risk formats (percentages vs icon arrays and percentages) in a DCE administered to over 1,000 female members of the public. However, decision-makers should be cautious of the approach until more empirical evidence supporting the use of DCEs for benefit-risk assessment emerges.


Caroline Vass, Research Fellow, University of Manchester

Caroline is interested in understanding how stated preference methods can be used to understand how individuals balance the benefits and risks associated with different healthcare interventions. She is particularly interested in using qualitative and experimental research methods, such as eye-tracking, alongside traditional quantitative analyses to understand the robustness and validity of the valuations derived. Caroline is currently working on a 6-year research programme at the Manchester Centre for Health Economics called ‘Mind the Risk’. The overall aim of the project is to support healthcare providers, patients and policy makers when it comes to the evaluation and handling of genetic risk information. In this project, Caroline is using discrete choice experiments (DCEs) to elicit individuals’ preferences for a personalised approach to medicine. Prior to this project, Caroline completed a PhD at the Manchester Centre for Health Economics where she used DCEs to elicit women's preferences for breast screening. The PhD sought to understand how competing risk presentation formats affected cognition and decision rules of respondents.

Forthcoming External Talks

The Health Economic and Policy Seminar Series

Wednesday, 03 April 2024 to Saturday, 31 May 2025