Estimating willingness to pay: Do health and environmental researchers have different methodological standards?

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Health and environmental economists have been employing Stated-Preference (SP) methods such as conjoint analysis or contingent valuation to estimate the monetary value of public health interventions and environmental goods and services. However, the quality of data and the validity of results are sensitive to a number of decisions researchers make. The aim of this study is to compare the degree of the current consensus among active researchers in the rapidly evolving area of SP methods in health and environmental valuation. We surveyed researchers who have published manuscripts on SP methods in the last 10 years. Researchers were presented with hypothetical SP studies with different attributes. They were first asked which study they would recommend to use to inform policy decisions, and then asked which study has better-quality. Our results show that good-practice SP methods vary among study features and among researchers with different amounts and kinds of research experience. Although health researchers had specific preferences on which study features were better, their quality judgements were not very consistent with their judgements about the acceptability of studies for policy analysis. On the other hand, environmental researchers had similar preferences over the study attributes for the two types of questions. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.





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Özdemir, S, and FR Johnson (2013). Estimating willingness to pay: Do health and environmental researchers have different methodological standards?. Applied Economics, 45(16). pp. 2215–2229. 10.1080/00036846.2012.659345 Retrieved from

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F. Reed Johnson

Professor in Population Health Sciences

F. Reed Johnson, PhD, has more than 40 years of academic and research experience in health and environmental economics. He has served on the faculties of several universities in the United States, Canada, and Sweden, and as Distinguished Fellow at Research Triangle Institute. He currently is Senior Research Scholar in the Duke Clinical Research Institute. As a staff member in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental economics research program during the 1980s, Reed helped pioneer the development of basic non­-market valuation techniques which are widely used for benefit-cost analysis in health and environmental economics. He has designed and analyzed numerous surveys for measuring preferences for and value of health outcomes, health ­risk reductions, and improved environmental quality.

Dr. Johnson has over 140 publications in books and peer-reviewed journals. His research has been published in various medical journals, the Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Health Economics, Medical Decision Making, Health Economics, Value in Health, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and other journals. He has coauthored a book on techniques for using existing environmental and health value estimates for policy analysis.

His current research involves quantifying patients’ willingness to accept side­effect risks in return for therapeutic benefits and estimating general time equivalences among health states. He led the first FDA­ sponsored study on patients’ willingness to accept benefit-risk tradeoffs for new health technologies. The study was used to develop recent FDA guidance on submitting patient-preference data to support regulatory reviews of medical devices.

Areas of expertise: Clinical Decision Sciences, Health Measurement, Health Policy, and Health Economics

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