Preferences for self-care or consulting a health professional for minor illness: A discrete choice experiment

Terry Porteous*, Mandy Ryan, Christine M. Bond, Phil Hannaford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To determine the relative importance of factors that influence decision making in the management of minor illness, and how people trade between these factors. Design of study: Discrete choice experiment. Setting: Scottish electoral roll. Method: Six hundred and fifty-two responders of a previous national survey were invited to complete a discrete choice experiment questionnaire. This was used to measure relative preferences for managing symptoms of minor illness often associated with analgesic use. Three attributes were identified as important to participants: type of management, availability, and cost of managing symptoms. Trade-offs between these attributes were examined. Results: A 57% response rate was achieved (51% valid response rate). People preferred to manage symptoms by self-care and were willing to pay almost £23 to do so. Community pharmacy was the preferred source of advice. Responders preferred less waiting time and paying less money when managing symptoms, and were willing to trade between factors. A less preferred type of management became more attractive when waiting times and cost were reduced. Conclusion: Findings suggest that self-care is the preferred method of managing symptoms of minor illness. When developing services to support self-care, policy makers should invest in services that reduce waiting times and incur least cost to users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-917
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number533
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Minor illness
  • Self care


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