The Willingness to Pay for Reducing Pain and Pain-Related Disability

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Abstract

Objectives:

We sought to identify chronic pain patients' preferences for levels of improvement in pain-related morbidity (PRM) by measuring their willingness to pay (WTP) for reducing their pain intensity and pain-related disability.

Methods:

The study was a cross-sectional nonrandomized design. Participants were recruited from a tertiary multidisciplinary pain center in Canada. A computer-administered discrete-choice experiment was used to explore participants' WTP for various levels of improvement to PRM. Participants chose between two varying combination of treatments that differed in terms of their level of improvement in pain intensity, level of improvement in pain-related disability, and out-of-pocket monthly cost.

Results:

The WTP to completely minimize PRM was $1428 per month. Reduction in pain intensity was valued more highly than functional improvement. For every dollar, an individual was WTP to improve his/her disability to the lowest severity (mild), he/she was WTP approximately $2 to reduce pain intensity to moderate and $3 to reduce pain intensity to mild. The potential return on investment in terms of health improvement gained was $3318 per patient visit per year.

Conclusion:

The morbidity associated with chronic pain is worth approximately $1428 for every month in the chronic pain health state. From the patient's perspective, treatment and management strategies that focus on reducing pain intensity would have the greatest impact on improving health-related quality of life. Valuing health improvement in monetary terms allows for direct monetary comparisons between the costs of chronic pain interventions and their associated health returns.

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