Eliciting Preferences from Choices: Discrete Choice Experiments

  • Martin HowellEmail author
  • Kirsten Howard
Reference work entry


Discrete choice experiments (DCEs) have been widely used as a research tool to elicit the preferences of patients, clinicians, the community, and policy-makers for a range of health-related questions including complex interventions, treatment options, health programs (e.g., cancer screening) and policies, and health service delivery. In a DCE, treatments or health programs are described by a set of attributes with varying levels, for example, health outcomes (harms and benefits), cost, time, properties of the procedure (e.g., injection or tablet), and so on. The participant is asked to choose their preferred treatment or program. By systematically varying the attribute levels across a range of choices, preferences for health goods and services can be calculated. Unlike other preference elicitation techniques such as ranking or rating, DCEs are underpinned by a well-established and robust theoretical framework that allows estimation of a range of outputs, including the relative importance of individual attributes within a multi-attribute health program (e.g., waiting time, travel time, type of care), the trade-offs individuals may be willing to accept between attributes (e.g., side effects and survival), as well as willingness to pay and uptake of health programs. This chapter provides an overview of the theory and application of DCEs.


Discrete choice experiments Best-worst scaling surveys Preference elicitation Preferences and values 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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