Public acceptability of non-pharmaceutical interventions to control a pandemic in the United Kingdom: a discrete choice experiment

Luis Enrique Loria Rebolledo* (Corresponding Author), Mandy Ryan, Verity Watson, Mesfin Genie, Ruben Andreas Sakowsky, Daniel Powell, Shantini Paranjothy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: To understand how individuals make trade-offs between features of lockdown interventions to control a pandemic across the four nations of the United Kingdom.

Design: Survey that included a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE). The survey design was informed using policy documents, social media analysis and with input from remote think-aloud interviews with members of the public (n=23).

Setting: Nation-wide survey across the four nations of the United Kingdom. Representative sample in terms of age and sex for each of the nations recruited using an online panel between 29th October and 12th December 2020.

Participants: Individuals who are over 18 years old. A total of 4120 adults completed the survey (1112 in England, 848 in Northern Ireland, 1143 in Scotland and 1098 in Wales).

Primary outcome measure: Adult’s preferences for, and trade-offs between, type of lockdown restrictions, length of lockdown, postponement of routine healthcare, excess deaths, impact on ability to buy things and unemployment.

Results: In all four countries, one out of five respondents were willing to reduce excess deaths at all costs. The majority of adults are willing to accept higher excess deaths if this means lockdowns that are less strict, shorter and do not postpone routine healthcare. On average, respondents in England were willing to accept a higher increase in excess deaths to have less strict lockdown restrictions introduced compared to Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, respectively.

Conclusions: The majority of the UK population is willing to accept the increase in excess deaths associated with introducing less strict lockdown restrictions. The acceptability of different restriction scenarios varies according to the features of the lockdown and across countries. Authorities can use information about trade-off preferences to inform the introduction of different lockdown restriction levels, and design compensation policies that maximise societal welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere054155
Number of pages12
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

We want to thank the members of the public who took part in the think aloud interviews as part of the study development stage. We thank the members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group for their continued involvement in the research study. We also thank Dr Dwayne Boyers for his internal review of the study protocol and Professor Vikki Entwistle for comments on the protocol.
This study was funded by the Health Economics Research Unit, the University of Aberdeen, and the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates. Award/Grant number is not applicable. The funders had no role in considering the study design or in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data, the writing of the report, or the decision to submit the article for publication.

Data Availability Statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Anonymised cross-sectional data from the analysis can be made available by the corresponding author after the authors’ review of reasonable requests. The published protocol can be found at


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