Coherence between perspectives and preferences in a PVE
Preferences can be measured in different ways. It is unclear to what extent the findings of those methods are coherent. During her internship at RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), Elisa de Weerd, student of the Research Master Health Sciences at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, researched the relation between two methods for measuring preferences: the Q methodology and Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE). The Q methodology is a method to investigate what kind of perspectives are held on a certain topic within a population.
The preferences Elisa studied in her thesis were about health care: what do people find important in decisions about reducing the basic health care package? Participants in the PVE were asked to cut 100 million euros by removing various medical treatments from the basic health care package. Thereafter participants indicated to what extent they agreed with the perspectives from an earlier Q methodology study.
Elisa investigated whether the answers to the perspectives related to the preferences in the PVE, based on a subgroup analysis. Ideally, this was investigated using a latent class analysis, but unfortunately this was not yet possible due to the complexity of the design of the PVE.
Several differences were found, but these did not match the hypotheses. This suggests that the differences were drive by other factors. Although it is not possible to provide an unambiguous answer to the research question, it can be concluded that the research methods do not replace each other. For example, Q methodology is a suitable method when little is known about preferences, whereas PVE is more suitable to investigate the trade-offs between different aspects of preferences when more is known about the preferences themselves. It is therefore important for policymakers to determine which method is most suitable for measuring preferences, on the basis of existing knowledge.