Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Preferences for treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a discrete choice experiment

Axel C Mühlbacher12*, Ina Rudolph3, Hans-Joachim Lincke1 and Matthias Nübling1

Author Affiliations

1 GEB mbH - Empirical Consulting (Gesellschaft für Empirische Beratung), Postfach 1729, 79017 Freiburg, Germany

2 IGM - Institut Gesundheitsökonomie und Medizinmanagement, Hochschule Neubrandenburg, Brodaer Straße 2, 17033 Neubrandenburg, Germany

3 Janssen-Cilag GmbH, Johnsen&Johnsen Platz 1, 41470 Neuss, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:149  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-149

Published: 13 August 2009



While there is an increasing emphasis on patient empowerment and shared decision-making, subjective values for attributes associated with their treatment still need to be measured and considered. This contribution seeks to define properties of an ideal drug treatment of individuals concerned with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Because of the lack of information on patient needs in the decision-makers assessment of health services, the individuals' preferences often play a subordinate role at present. Discrete Choice Experiments offer strategies for eliciting subjective values and making them accessible for physicians and other health care professionals.


The evidence comes from a Discrete Choice Experiments (DCE) performed in 2007. After reviewing the literature about preferences of ADHS we conducted a qualitative study with four focus groups consisting of five to eleven ADHS-patients each. In order to achieve content validity, we aimed at collecting all relevant factors for an ideal ADHS treatment. In a subsequent quantitative study phase (n = 219), data was collected in an online or paper-pencil self-completed questionnaire. It included sociodemographic data, health status and patients' preferences of therapy characteristics using direct measurement (23 items on a five-point Likert-scale) as well as a Discrete-Choice-Experiment (DCE, six factors in a fold-over design).


Those concerned were capable of clearly defining success criteria and expectations. In the direct assessment and the DCE, respondents attached special significance to the improvement of their social situation and emotional state (relative importance 40%). Another essential factor was the desire for drugs with a long-lasting effect over the day (relative importance 18%). Other criteria, such as flexibility and discretion, were less important to the respondents (6% and 9%, respectively).


Results point out that ADHD patients and their family members have clear ideas of their needs. This is especially important against the backdrop of present discussions in the healthcare sector on the relevance of patient reported outcomes (PROs) and shared decision-making. The combination of the methods used in this study offer promising strategies to elicit subjective values and making them accessible for health care professionals in a manner that drives health choices.