The objective of the project is to assess and develop the methodology of "willingness to pay" (WTP) as a tool for measuring the strength of preference of members of the public for alternative health care priorities, using cross-cultural comparisons as a means of validation. The study will investigate:
(1) the effects of asking insurance-based WTP questions (i.e. with information presented on risks to oneself or one's family of needing care) as opposed to community-based WTP questions (i.e. with risk to the population in general presented), as one or another of these methods may be more appropriate in different countries and each may also activate different aspects of respondents' value systems;
(2) the consistency of the methods used; and
(3) whether the two main methods of eliciting WTP (a payment scale or a referendum format using "Yes/No" responses) leads to different WTP results.
An interview-based survey will be carried out in seven countries. This survey will involve asking members of the public to set priorities amongst alternative uses of health care resources. Members of the public will be asked to state their strength of preference for each alternative in terms of the maximum amount of money they would be willing to pay for each. In each country, at least 520 people will be approached.
WTP is a method for eliciting the views of members of the public about health care priorities. It provides a single measure of strength of preference for health care options. The measure is based on the maximum amount of money a respondent would be prepared to pay for each option and, therefore, incorporates the economic notion that something is not of value unless one is prepared to sacrifice something else in order to get it. Despite such advantages, the method raises a number of important issues which require investigation across cultures. The "European added value" of the project is that the WTP measure will be rigorously tested across cultures in a coherent manner with the results of such testing being available sooner than would otherwise be the case.