Methods: In a discrete choice experiment, European rheumatologists chose between two hypothetical drug treatments for a patient with moderate disease activity. Treatments differed in five attributes: efficacy (improvement and achieved state on disease activity), safety (probability of serious adverse events), patient's preference (level of agreement), medication costs and cost-effectiveness (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER)). A Bayesian efficient design defined 14 choice sets, and a random parameter logit model was used to estimate relative preferences for rheumatologists across countries. Cluster analyses and latent class models were applied to understand preference patterns across countries and among individual rheumatologists.
Results: Responses of 559 rheumatologists from 12 European countries were included in the analysis (49% females, mean age 48 years). In all countries, efficacy dominated treatment decisions followed by economic considerations and patients’ preferences. Across countries, rheumatologists avoided selecting a treatment that patients disliked. Latent class models revealed four respondent profiles: one traded off all attributes except safety, and the remaining three classes disregarded ICER. Among individual rheumatologists, 57% disregarded ICER and these were more likely from Italy, Romania, Portugal or France, whereas 43% disregarded uncommon/rare side effects and were more likely from Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden or UK.
Conclusions: Overall, European rheumatologists are willing to trade between treatment efficacy, patients' treatment preferences and economic considerations. However, the degree of trade-off differs between countries and among individuals.