The impact of considering adaptation in health state valuation.


Patients with chronic health conditions often rate their quality of life (QoL) significantly higher than non-patients. One explanation for this discrepancy is that non-patients focus on the negative aspects of the onset of a condition, especially the early difficulties people face when they first experience a debilitating condition, without considering that patients can adapt to it over time. To test this hypothesis, we had 359 people perform person tradeoff (PTO) elicitations in an online survey, varying whether the treatment programs under consideration saved the lives of patients (a) with pre-existing paraplegia; or (b) who would experience new onset of paraplegia. Half of each group completed an adaptation exercise which encouraged them to consider their own ability to emotionally adapt to negative events in general and specifically to having paraplegia. The adaptation manipulation increased the value participants placed on pre-existing paraplegia (p=0.03) and on new onset paraplegia (p=0.05), relative to saving healthy lives. Moreover, the adaptation exercise dramatically reduced the differences between evaluations of pre-existing and new onset paraplegia to values within 2% of each other. Our findings suggest that asking non-patients to do an adaptation exercise before giving QoL ratings may help close the gap in ratings between patients and citizen non-patients.

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