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Decision-making criteria among European patients: exploring patient preferences for primary care services

23 Jan 2015

Background: Health economics preference-based techniques, such as discrete choice experiments (DCEs), are often used to inform public health policy on patients’ priorities when choosing health care. Although there is general evidence about patients’ satisfaction with general-practice (GP) care in Europe, to our knowledge no comparisons are available that measure patients’ preferences in different European countries, and use patients’ priorities to propose policy changes. Methods: A DCE was designed and used to capture patients’ preferences for GP care in Germany, England and Slovenia. In the three countries, 841 eligible patients were identified across nine GP practices. The DCE questions compared multiple health-care practices (including their ‘current GP practice’), described by the following attributes: ‘information’ received from the GP, ‘booking time’, ‘waiting time’ in the GP practice, ‘listened to’, as well as being able to receive the ‘best care’ available for their condition. Results were compared across countries looking at the attributes’ importance and rankings, patients’ willingness-to-wait for unit changes to the attributes’ levels and changes in policy. Results: A total of 692 respondents (75% response rate) returned questionnaires suitable for analysis. In England and Slovenia, patients were satisfied with their ‘current practice’, but they valued changes to alternative practices. All attributes influenced decision-making, and ‘best care’ or ‘information’ were more valued than others. In Germany, almost all respondents constantly preferred their ‘current practice’, and other factors did not change their preference. Conclusion: European patients have strong preference for their ‘status quo’, but alternative GP practices could compensate for it and offer more valued care.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in European Journal of Public Health