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Open Access Research

A pilot Internet "Value of Health" Panel: recruitment, participation and compliance

Ken Stein1*, Matthew Dyer1, Tania Crabb1, Ruairidh Milne2, Alison Round1, Julie Ratcliffe3 and John Brazier3

Author Affiliations

1 Peninsula Technology Assessment Group, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Noy Scott House, Barrack Road, Exeter, EX2 5DW, UK

2 National Coordinating Centre for Health Technology Assessment, University of Southampton, Boldrewood, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton, SO16 7PX, UK

3 Sheffield Health Economics Group, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, 30 Regent Court, Sheffield, S1 4DA, UK

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2006, 4:90  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-4-90

Published: 27 November 2006

Abstract

Objectives

To pilot using a panel of members of the public to provide preference data via the Internet

Methods

A stratified random sample of members of the general public was recruited and familiarised with the standard gamble procedure using an Internet based tool. Health states were perdiodically presented in "sets" corresponding to different conditions, during the study. The following were described: Recruitment (proportion of people approached who were trained); Participation (a) the proportion of people trained who provided any preferences and (b) the proportion of panel members who contributed to each "set" of values; and Compliance (the proportion, per participant, of preference tasks which were completed). The influence of covariates on these outcomes was investigated using univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results

A panel of 112 people was recruited. 23% of those approached (n = 5,320) responded to the invitation, and 24% of respondents (n = 1,215) were willing to participate (net = 5.5%). However, eventual recruitment rates, following training, were low (2.1% of those approached). Recruitment from areas of high socioeconomic deprivation and among ethnic minority communities was low. Eighteen sets of health state descriptions were considered over 14 months. 74% of panel members carried out at least one valuation task. People from areas of higher socioeconomic deprivation and unmarried people were less likely to participate. An average of 41% of panel members expressed preferences on each set of descriptions. Compliance ranged from 3% to 100%.

Conclusion

It is feasible to establish a panel of members of the general public to express preferences on a wide range of health state descriptions using the Internet, although differential recruitment and attrition are important challenges. Particular attention to recruitment and retention in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation and among ethnic minority communities is necessary. Nevertheless, the panel approach to preference measurement using the Internet offers the potential to provide specific utility data in a responsive manner for use in economic evaluations and to address some of the outstanding methodological uncertainties in this field.