Considering adaptation in preference elicitations.

Objective: Patients with chronic health conditions usually place higher utility on their condition than the public does. One explanation for this discrepancy is that healthy people focus on the negative aspects of the condition without considering their own ability to emotionally adapt to the condition over time. The aim of this randomized experimental study was to test whether people would give higher utility ratings for chronic health conditions when they were encouraged to consider their own ability to adapt to difficult situations before giving their ratings. Main Outcome Measure: Utility ratings for four chronic health conditions. Results: The authors presented scenarios describing 4 chronic health conditions to 1,117 respondents drawn from a demographically balanced U.S. Internet panel. The adaptation exercise did not influence respondents’ valuations. However, utility values increasingly improved with decreasing ratings of how upsetting it would be to live with the condition over time. Conclusion: The authors speculate that asking people to think about adaptation changes their evaluations of what it would feel like to live with chronic illness, but doing so does not change how much they are willing to trade off to avoid that chronic illness.

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