Patient. 2023 Oct 24. doi: 10.1007/s40271-023-00649-4. Online ahead of print.
Health preference research (HPR) is being increasingly conducted to better understand patient preferences for medical decisions. However, patients vary in their desire to play an active role in medical decisions. Until now, few studies have considered patients’ preferred roles in decision making. In this opinion paper, we advocate for HPR researchers to assess and account for role preferences in their studies, to increase the relevance of their work for medical and shared decision making. We provide recommendations on how role preferences can be elicited and integrated with health preferences: (1) in formative research prior to a health preference study that aims to inform medical decisions or decision makers, (2a) in the development of health preference instruments, for instance by incorporating a role preference instrument and (2b) by clarifying the respondent’s role in the decision prior to the preference elicitation task or by including role preferences as an attribute in the task itself, and (3) in statistical analysis by including random parameters or latent classes to raise awareness of heterogeneity in role preferences and how it relates to health preferences. Finally, we suggest redefining the decision process as a model that integrates the role and health preferences of the different parties that are involved. We believe that the field of HPR would benefit from learning more about the extent to which role preferences relate to health preferences, within the context of medical and shared decision making.