Contingent valuation scenarios for chronic illnesses: The case of childhood asthma

Sylvia Brandt, Felipe Vásquez Lavín, William Hanemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: We use a contingent valuation (CV) study of childhood asthma to discuss a central issue in designing CV studies of chronic illness-the need for a detailed, realistic scenario that minimizes confounding factors-and show how to address this issue. We apply our methodology to estimate households' willingness to pay (WTP) for reductions in asthma morbidity. Methods: By using a combination of focus groups, revealed preference surveys, and epidemiological surveys, we gathered information on health status, attitudes, and beliefs regarding asthma, risk-averting behaviors, perceptions of these behaviors, and household socioeconomic characteristics. We used this information to design a CV survey that we extensively tested for validity. In the survey, we elicited participants' WTP for a hypothetical device that would reduce symptom-days by improving asthma management; these data enabled us to estimate household WTP by using a variety of econometric models. Results: Our analysis of households with children with asthma yielded the following conclusions: the scenario should address both physical asthma symptoms and the psychosocial stress of managing a chronic illness; the survey should measure household perceptions of the burden of asthma in addition to objective measures such as symptom-days; and the scenario should not involve substantial behavioral changes or a new medication, to avoid confounding household preferences with unrelated attributes of the scenario. Our primary models estimated mean household WTP for a 50% reduction in symptom-days (and accompanying reductions in psychosocial stress) at $56.48 to $64.84 per month. Conclusions: Our methodology can be used to inform CV studies of chronic illness. Our WTP estimates can help regulatory agencies assess a wide range of policies that affect the incidence or severity of asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1077-1083
Number of pages7
JournalValue in Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • asthma
  • attitudes and beliefs
  • chronic illnesses
  • contingent valuation
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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