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Valuing the benefits of genetic testing for retinitis pigmentosa: a pilot application of the contingent valuation method

Abstract

Background Technological advances present an opportunity for more people with, or at risk of, developing retinitis pigmentosa (RP) to be offered genetic testing. Valuation of these tests using current evaluative frameworks is problematic since benefits may be derived from diagnostic information rather than improvements in health. This pilot study aimed to explore if contingent valuation method (CVM) can be used to value the benefits of genetic testing for RP.

Methods CVM was used to elicit willingness-to-pay (WTP) values for (1) genetic counselling and (2) genetic counselling with genetic testing. Telephone and face-to-face interviews with a purposive sample of individuals with (n=25), and without (n=27), prior experience of RP were used to explore the feasibility and validity of CVM in this context.

Results Faced with a hypothetical scenario, the majority of participants stated that they would seek genetic counselling and testing in the context of RP. Between participant groups, respondents offered similar justifications for stated WTP values. Overall stated WTP was higher for genetic counselling plus testing (median=£524.00) compared with counselling alone (median=£224.50). Between-group differences in stated WTP were statistically significant; participants with prior knowledge of the condition were willing to pay more for genetic ophthalmology services.

Conclusions Participants were able to attach a monetary value to the perceived potential benefit that genetic testing offered regardless of prior experience of the condition. This exploratory work represents an important step towards evaluating these services using formal cost–benefit analysis.

  • Genetics
  • Diagnostic tests/Investigation
  • Retina
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