An investigation of the stability of patients’ treatment preferences over the course of a clinical trial

Paul Allanson (Lead / Corresponding author), Eric Brown, Daniel Kopasker, Andrzej Kwiatkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: The usefulness of discrete choice experiments (DCEs) to inform clinical guidelines rests on the assumption that patients facing the same treatment choice at different points in time will express the same preferences. This study provides the first investigation, to our knowledge, to specifically focus on the stability of patients’ treatment preferences over the course of a clinical trial.

Methods: The same DCE was completed by participants at baseline and final post-treatment assessment in a trial of the efficacy of alternative topical treatments for actinic keratosis as a means for the prevention of skin cancer. The study assesses both the consistency of stated treatment choices and the stability of population-level preference parameter estimates and analyzes how the former is influenced by design aspects of the DCE. 

Results: No evidence was found of population-level preference parameter instability over the course of the trial despite only a moderate strength of choice consistency. Choice consistency is negatively related to task difficulty with weak evidence of the existence of ordering effects over the sequence of choice tasks.

Conclusions: The results provide no evidence that the timing of a DCE within a clinical trial significantly influences population-level treatment preference estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalValue in Health
Early online date10 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2020



  • DCE
  • clinical trial
  • preference stability

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