Evaluating socioeconomic status differences in patient preferences for asthma therapy using discrete choice experimentation

Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions affecting Canadians. Despite the availability of effective therapies and guidelines on how to manage asthma appropriately, poorly controlled asthma remains a significant health issue, with morbidity (complications) and death rates continuing to increase both in Canada, and worldwide. Dr. Larry Lynd’s previous research identified that asthmatics of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to have poorly controlled asthma. Building on his previous work, Dr. Lynd is now studying the factors that may be contributing to these differences, using a novel methodology called Discrete Choice Experimentation, originally developed for market research. Study participants complete a questionnaire which is designed to determine their individual preferences for different aspects of asthma management. The questionnaire asks questions related to areas such as avoiding side effects, realizing a benefit from drug therapy, and how much individuals are willing to pay to achieve these outcomes. By comparing this data with their socioeconomic information, Dr. Lynd hopes to determine if there are differences between individual’s preferences are based on their levels of education and household income. The results of this study will provide further insight into some of the factors that may be contributing to poorly controlled asthma, which in turn will contribute to the development of specific programs and interventions aimed at improving asthma control and outcomes. This study is one component of Dr. Lynd’s broader research program involving the development and application of new methods for therapeutic risk-benefit analysis.