The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 789–799 | Cite as

The cost-effectiveness of cash versus lottery incentives for a web-based, stated-preference community survey

  • Aleksandra Gajic
  • David Cameron
  • Jeremiah Hurley
Original Paper


We present the results of a randomized experiment to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of response incentives for a stated-preference survey of a general community population. The survey was administered using a mixed-mode approach, in which community members were invited to participate using a traditional mailed letter using contact information for a representative sample of the community; but individuals completed the survey via the web, which exploited the advantages of electronic capture. Individuals were randomized to four incentive groups: (a) no incentive, (b) prepaid cash incentive ($2), (c) a low lottery (10 prizes of $25) and (d) a high lottery (2 prizes of $250). Letters of invitation were mailed to 3,000 individuals. In total, 405 individuals (14.4%) contacted the website and 277 (9.8%) provided complete responses. The prepaid cash incentive generated the highest contact and response rates (23.3 and 17.3%, respectively), and no incentive generated the lowest (9.1 and 5.7%, respectively). The high lottery, however, was the most cost-effective incentive for obtaining completed surveys: compared with no incentive, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) per completed survey for high lottery was $13.89; for prepaid cash, the ICER was $18.29. This finding suggests that the preferred response incentive for community-based, stated-preference surveys is a lottery with a small number of large prizes.


Stated-preference survey Discrete-choice survey Response incentives 

JEL Codes

I10 C83 C90 



We acknowledge helpful comments from two anonymous referees, Emmanouil Mentzakis, Neil Buckley, Stuart Mestelman, Andrew Muller, Katherine Cuff, Jingjing Zhang, and David Karp of the Department of Economics and the Experimental Economics Laboratory, McMaster University. Funding: This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Grant # 76670). We also acknowledge funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster University, and the use of resources associated with the McMaster Experimental Economics Laboratory. This study was reviewed and approved by the McMaster University Research Ethics Board. The views expressed are those of the authors alone.

Conflicts of interest

No conflicts to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleksandra Gajic
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Cameron
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeremiah Hurley
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Health Economics and Policy AnalysisMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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