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Keywords:

  • conjoint analysis;
  • consumer preferences;
  • patient health card;
  • primary care

Objective

To demonstrate the application of conjoint analysis (CA) for eliciting the views of health service users.

Methods

A CA study was conducted alongside a randomized controlled trial evaluating the introduction of a patient health card (PHC). The PHC was evaluated with respect to three other aspects of general practice: number of days between making a non-urgent appointment and seeing a doctor; waiting time in reception between the time of the appointment and seeing a doctor; and whether the patient is usually seen by the doctor of their choice. A postal questionnaire was sent to 100 individuals from a general practice in Inverurie, Scotland.

Results

Seventy-five individuals returned the questionnaire, of whom 51 answered the CA section. The PHC was the least important of the attributes considered. The number of days between making a non-urgent appointment and seeing a doctor was considered to be the most important. A 1-day reduction in the number of days to appointment was four and a half times more important than having a PHC; a 1-minute reduction in waiting time in the reception area was three and a half times more important than having a PHC; and seeing a doctor of choice was over three times more important than having a PHC. Satisfaction or utility scores for different ways of providing a general practice service also indicated that priority should be given to reducing waiting time to see a doctor or reducing waiting time in reception.

Conclusions

While the PHC is a significant and positive predictor of satisfaction in general practice, it is less important than the other three attributes considered. More generally, CA appears to be a potentially useful instrument for eliciting the views of health service users.