Preferences for self-care or professional advice for minor illness: a discrete choice experiment

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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 223 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
JournalThe British Journal of General Practice
Issue number533
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • conjoint-analysis


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