Do educational tools influence what patients prefer?


Stakeholders across the medical product life cycle are eager to find out what patients prefer. From the pharmaceutical companies that develop new treatments, to the authorities that decide if they should become available to patients, and at what price. But to be useful in decision-making, the patient preferences collected need to be informed. A recent Patient Education and Counseling publication explores the use of educational tools in patient preference studies, and finds that sometimes, they influence patients’ preferences.

Guidance on how to design and frame training materials for preference studies is currently lacking. And there is uncertainty about how patient preferences are influenced by educational tools. Researchers at Uppsala University are finding out what treatment options patients with rheumatoid arthritis prefer. They are contributing data from the patient preference studies they are conducting outside the framework of the PREFER project, to help build robust and evidence-built recommendations for how to perform patient preference studies in the best way. In their pursuits, they also took a closer look at how the educational material offered to participants might have influenced the results of their study. 

During the study, survey respondents were either provided with training materials in plain text or through an online educational tool. Then, respondents took part in a benefit-risk trade-off exercise known as a discrete choice experiment. When looking at the results, it became clear that the two groups, after receiving the same preparatory information in two different ways, had different preferences. The group that were assigned to the training material in the educational tool was more concerned about side-effects. The other group, who got the information in plain-text, was more concerned about treatment effectiveness and administration methods.

“It is important for us, as researchers, to know that educational tools can influence the outcomes of a patient preference study. Whether that is a good, bad or neutral phenomenon, and why it is happening, is something that needs to be explored in future studies. Either way, knowing that educational tools can influence patients’ preferences is important. It is another step towards enabling patient-centric decision-making across the medical product life cycle” says Karin Schölin Bywall, one of the authors of the recent Patient Education and Counseling paper. 

Explore PREFER publications

K.S.  Bywall,  J.  Veldwijk,  M.G. Hansson et  al.,  Does being exposed to  an  educational tool  influence patient preferences? The influence of an educational tool on patient preferences assessed by a discrete choice experiment., Patient Education and Counseling, 10 March 2021 

By Anna Holm

Last modified: 2021-11-10