What Do Patients Want from Otolaryngologists? A Discrete Choice Experiment

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Patient preferences are crucial for the delivery of patient-centered care. Discrete choice experiments (DCEs) are an emerging quantitative methodology used for understanding these preferences. In this study, we employed DCE techniques to understand the preferences of patients presenting for an ear, nose, and throat clinic visit.

Study Design



Decision science laboratory.


A DCE survey of 5 attributes—wait time, physician experience, physician personality, utilization of visit time, and cost/copayment—was constructed with structured qualitative interviews with patients. The DCE was administered to participants from the general population, who chose among hypothetical scenarios that varied across these attributes. A conditional logit model was used to determine relative attribute importance, with a separate logit model for determining subject effects.


A total of 161 participants were included. Cost/copayment had the greatest impact on decision making (importance, 32.2%), followed by wait time and physician experience (26.5% and 24.7%, respectively). Physician personality mattered least (4.7%), although all attributes were significantly correlated to decision making. Participants preferred doctors who spent more time performing physical examination than listening or explaining. Participants were willing to pay $52 extra to avoid a 4-week delay in appointment time; $87 extra for a physician with 10 years of experience (vs 0 years); and $9 extra for a caring, friendly, and compassionate doctor (vs formal, efficient, and business-like).


DCEs allow for powerful economic analyses that may help physicians understand patient preferences. Our model showed that cost is an important factor to patients and that patients are willing to pay extra for timely appointments, experience, and thorough physical examination.

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