Valuation of depression co-occurring with a somatic condition: feasibility of the time trade-off task

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Health state valuations obtained from the general population are used for cost-utility analyses of health-care interventions. Currently, most studies have focused on valuations of somatic conditions, to a much lesser extent of mental states, that is, depression and even less on valuations of depression co-occurring with somatic conditions.


We tested the feasibility of the time trade-off (TTO) task to elicit valuations for depression solitary or co-occurring with a somatic condition. Moreover, we explored person- and state-related factors that may affect valuations.


During semi-structured interviews, 10 individuals (five women, mean age: 36 years) used a TTO task to value vignettes describing mild and severe depression; and mild depression co-occurring with moderate and severe states of cancer, diabetes or heart disease. During valuations, participants were thinking aloud. Feasibility criteria were successful completion and difficulty/concentration (1–10); logical consistency of values; and comprehension of the TTO, based on qualitative analysis of think aloud data. Factors influencing valuations were generated from think aloud data.


Participants reported satisfactory levels of difficulty (mean: 1.9) and concentration (mean: 8.3) and assigned consistent values. Qualitative analysis revealed difficulties with imagining: living with depression for lifetime (n = 4); reaching the age of 80 (n = 6); and living with a somatic condition and mentally healthy (n = 6). Person- and state-related factors, for example perceived susceptibility to depression (n = 4), appeared to affect valuations.


Quantitative findings supported feasibility of the valuation protocol, yet qualitative findings indicated that certain task aspects should be readdressed. Factors influencing valuations can be explored to better understand valuations.

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