Patient preferences studies: How NICE aims to make use of them

Dr Jacoline Bouvy, Senior Scientific Adviser, talks about a growing area of interest for the Scientific Advice team at NICE

Dr Jacoline Bouvy Senior Scientific Adviser, Science Policy and Research Programme, NICE

Patient preferences studies are surveys which ask patients to choose between different treatment options.

For example, people who have been living with a condition for a long time could have different preferences regarding the treatment options available, than people who are newly diagnosed.

These studies measure what type of treatment is more important to a patient group and could tell NICE the difference between specific treatment characteristics. Patient preferences is the term used to describe the data captured for both actual and hypothetical treatment attributes.

The Science Policy and Research team at NICE undertook a 2-year research project, funded by the patient charity Myeloma UK, to test various methods of surveying patient preferences.  

The aim of our project was to understand more about the way patient preference data can be collected and used in decisions about new medicines and treatments.

As we found out, a ‘discrete choice experiment’ could be very helpful to NICE in some situations. This method identifies, for example, the preferred choice when very different treatment options for the same condition exist - such as a choice between taking a drug or an operation; or a choice between taking a pill daily versus receiving an injection monthly.

The final scientific report linked to our research has been published on the Myeloma UK website.

In addition, we have piloted providing scientific advice for a patient preferences study. Organisations interested in performing similar studies can get in touch with the NICE Scientific Advice team for more information.

The patient viewpoint is essential to the work NICE does since people living with a condition can best speak about it. Patients and members of the public can choose to get involved with NICE in a number of ways.

Tags: patient preferences studies

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