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Using the discrete choice experimental design to investigate decision-making about pressure ulcer prevention by community nurses


Panos Papanikolaou
Nursing, Health and Social Care Research Centre
School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies
Cardiff University
35-43 Newport Road
Cardiff CF24 0AB


This study investigates the preferences of senior community nurses who work as district nurse team leaders in selecting preventive care plans for elderly people at high risk of pressure ulcer formation. The discrete choice experiment (DCE) technique was used. Focus group work produced the following five attributes of nurse decision-making: ‘ease of care plan management’, ‘impact of care plan on patient's lifestyle’, ‘speed of obtaining the equipment’, ‘affordability’, ‘evidence-based practice’. These were incorporated into a self-administered questionnaire, posted to 102 nurses from two integrated acute/community NHS Trusts in Wales. A response rate of 55% was achieved. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of the selected attributes on a 5-point scale. They rated ‘evidence-based practice’, ‘impact of care plan on patient's lifestyle’, ‘ease of care plan management’ and ‘speed of obtaining the equipment’ highly, whereas ‘affordability’ was of less importance. However, regression analysis, which is part of the DCE technique, produced a somewhat different picture, with ‘impact’ being least and ‘affordability’ most statistically significant. The reasons for this apparent anomaly are discussed and the paper concludes that the DCE approach is capable of yielding important information, which is not produced by simple rating exercises. Such information is potentially of value in the context of modernisation and service configuration.