Eliciting Preferences for Clinical Follow-Up in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer Using Best-Worst Scaling

Michela Meregaglia, John Cairns, Salvatore Alfieri, Federica Favales, Daniela Mazzitelli, Ester Orlandi, Lisa Licitra, Paolo Bossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives There are no commonly accepted standards for monitoring patients treated for head and neck cancer. The aim of this study was to assess patients’ preferences for different aspects of follow-up. Methods A best-worst survey was conducted in a sample of head and neck cancer patients in clinical follow-up at the National Cancer Institute (Milan, Italy). Conditional logit regression with choice as the dependent variable was run to analyse the data. A covariate-adjusted analysis was performed in order to identify socio-demographic and clinical factors related to the selection of best-worst items. The participants were asked to report any difficulties encountered during the survey. Results A total of 143 patients, predominantly male (74%) and with a mean age of 58 years were enrolled in the survey. The strongest positive preference was expressed for a hospital-based program of physical examinations with frequency decreasing over time. Conversely, the lowest valued item was not performing any positron emission tomography (PET) scan during follow-up. Patients with high educational levels were more likely to value attending a primary care-based program and undergoing intensive radiological investigations. Other patient-specific variables significantly associated with the choice of items were employment and living status, time already spent in follow-up and number of treatments received. Conclusions Overall, patients were more likely to choose an intensive follow-up scheme broadly consistent with the program currently administered by the hospital. There is little evidence of preference heterogeneity that might justify customized programs based on demographics. The best-worst scaling task appeared feasible for most participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalValue in Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • best-worst scaling
  • follow-up
  • head and neck cancer
  • patients’ preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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