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Doctoral student Caroline Vass from the University of Manchester won the Lee Lusted Award in the Preference Assessment category for her poster entitled: "Investigating the Framing of Risk Attributes in a Discrete Choice Experiment: An Application of Eye-Tracking and Think Aloud" at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making conference in Miami.

Caroline's research set out to understand how the communication of risk in a discrete choice experiment (DCE) affects respondents’ decision-making heuristics and strategies.

An on-line pilot DCE was designed to understand the preferences of a sample of female members of the public (recruited by posters in local cafes) for a breast screening programme described by two risk attributes (probability of detecting a cancer and risk of unnecessary treatment) and an out-of-pocket cost attribute, each with four levels.

She found that In total, 35 female members of the public completed the DCE, with fifteen respondents completing the eye-tracking experiment. Respondents gave significantly more visual attention, suggesting information processing, to both risk attributes when risk was communicated with an icon array compared with using a percentage to present the risk. 

This pilot study demonstrates that eye-tracking can be used as a method to further understand the responses to a DCE and highlights the impact that risk attribute framing can have on respondents’ decision-making heuristics and strategies.

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