Eliciting patients' preferences for epilepsy diagnostics: A discrete choice experiment

B.F.M. Wijnen*, R.J. de Kinderen, A.J. Colon, C.D. Dirksen, B.A.B. Essers, M. Hiligsmann, F.S.S. Leijten, P.P.W. Ossenblok, S.M.A.A. Evers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Diagnosing epilepsy is a lengthy and burdensome process for patients and their family. Although the need for a more patient-centered approach in clinical practice is widely acknowledged, empirical evidence regarding patient preferences for diagnostic modalities in epilepsy is missing. The objectives of this study were 1) to identify to what extent important attributes of diagnostic procedures in epilepsy affect preferences for a procedure, 2) to determine the relative importance of these attributes, and 3) to calculate overall utility scores for routine electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) recordings.

Methods: A discrete choice experiment was performed to determine patients' preferences, which involved presentation of pairwise choice tasks regarding hypothetical scenarios. Scenarios varied along six attributes: "way of measuring brain activity", "duration", "freedom of movement", "travel time", "type of additional examination", and "chance of additional examination". Choice tasks were constructed using a statistically efficient design, and the questionnaire contained 15 unique unlabeled choice tasks. Mixed multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate patients' preferences.

Results: A total of 289 questionnaires were included in the analysis. McFadden's pseudo R-2 showed a model fit of 0.28, and all attributes were statistically significant. Heterogeneity in preferences was present for all attributes. "Freedom of movement" and "Chance of additional examination" were perceived as the most important attributes. Overall utility scores did not substantially differ between routine EEG and MEG.

Conclusion: This study suggests that the identified attributes are important in determining patients' preference for epilepsy diagnostics. It can be concluded that MEG is not necessarily more patient-friendly than a routine EEG in primary diagnostics and, regarding additional diagnostics, patients have a strong preference for long-term 24-h EEG over EEG after sleep deprivation. Furthermore, barring substantial heterogeneity within the parameters in mind, our study suggests that it is important to take individual preferences into account in medical decision-making. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Epilepsy
  • Preferences
  • Electroencephalography
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Diagnostics
  • CARE

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