Understanding public preferences and trade-offs for government responses during a pandemic: a protocol for a discrete choice experiment in the UK

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


INTRODUCTION: Social distancing and lockdown measures are among the main government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures aim to limit the COVID-19 infection rate and reduce the mortality rate of COVID-19. Given we are likely to see local lockdowns until a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is available, and their effectiveness depends on public acceptability, it is important to understand public preference for government responses.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Using a discrete choice experiment (DCE), this study will investigate the public's preferences for pandemic responses in the UK. Attributes (and levels) are based on: (1) lockdown measures described in policy documents; (2) literature on preferences for lockdown measures and (3) a social media analysis. Attributes include: lockdown type; lockdown length; postponement of usual non-urgent medical care; number of excess deaths; number of infections; impact on household spending and job losses. We will prepilot the DCE using virtual think aloud interviews with respondents recruited via Facebook. We will collect preference data using an online survey of 4000 individuals from across the four UK countries (1000 per country). We will estimate the relative importance of the attributes, and the trade-offs individuals are willing to make between attributes. We will test if respondents' preferences differ based on moral attitudes (using the Moral Foundation Questionnaire), socioeconomic circumstances (age, education, economic insecurity, health status), country of residence and experience of COVID-19.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The University of Aberdeen's College Ethics Research Board (CERB) has approved the study (reference: CERB/2020/6/1974). We will seek CERB approval for major changes from the developmental and pilot work. Peer-reviewed papers will be submitted, and results will be presented at public health and health economic conferences nationally and internationally. A lay summary will be published on the Health Economics Research Unit blog.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere043477
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
Early online date20 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding public preferences and trade-offs for government responses during a pandemic: a protocol for a discrete choice experiment in the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this