High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are an increasingly common strategy to contain health care costs. Individuals with chronic conditions are at particular risk for increased out-of-pocket costs in HDHPs and resulting cost-related underuse of essential health care.
To evaluate whether families with chronic conditions in HDHPs have higher rates of delayed or forgone care due to cost, compared with those in traditional health insurance plans.
This mail and phone survey used multiple logistic regression to compare family-level rates of reporting delayed/forgone care in HDHPs vs. traditional plans.
We selected families with children that had at least one member with a chronic condition. Families had employer-sponsored insurance in a Massachusetts health plan and >12 months of enrollment in an HDHP or a traditional plan.
The primary outcome was report of any delayed or forgone care due to cost (acute care, emergency department visits, chronic care, checkups, or tests) for adults or children during the prior 12 months.
Respondents included 208 families in HDHPs and 370 in traditional plans. Membership in an HDHP and lower income were each independently associated with higher probability of delayed/forgone care due to cost. For adult family members, the predicted probability of delayed/forgone care due to cost was higher in HDHPs than in traditional plans [40.0% vs 15.1% among families with incomes <400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and 16.0% vs 4.8% among those with incomes ≥400% FPL]. Similar associations were observed for children.
Among families with chronic conditions, reporting of delayed/forgone care due to cost is higher for both adults and children in HDHPs than in traditional plans. Families with lower incomes are also at higher risk for delayed/forgone care.
health insurance; deductible; cost sharing; utilization; health policy
Black and Latino children with asthma have worse morbidity and receive less controller medication than their white peers. Scant information exists on racial/ethnic differences in parent perceptions of asthma. To compare parent perceptions among black, Latino, and white children with asthma in 4 domains: (1) expectations for functioning with asthma; (2) concerns about medications; (3) interactions with providers; and (4) competing family priorities.
In this cross-sectional study, we conducted telephone interviews with parents of children with persistent asthma in a Medicaid health plan and a multispecialty provider group in Massachusetts. To measure expectations for functioning and other domains, we adapted multi-item scales from past studies. Associations between race/ethnicity and these domains were evaluated in multivariate analyses that controlled for age, gender, household income, parental education, insurance, and language. The response rate was 72%.
Of the 739 study children, 24% were black, 21% Latino, and 43% white. Parents of black and Latino children had lower expectations for their children’s functioning with asthma (P < .001), higher levels of worry about their children’s asthma (P < .001), and more competing family priorities (P = 004) compared with parents of white children. Parents of Latino children had higher levels of concern about medications for asthma than parents of black or white children (P = 002). There were no differences among racial/ethnic groups in reports of interactions with the provider of their children’s asthma care.
Efforts to eliminate disparities in childhood asthma may need to address variation in expectations and competing priorities between minority and white families.
asthma; health care disparities; racial/ethnic variation
The Division of Lung Diseases of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) held a workshop to develop recommendations on topics, methodologies, and resources for comparative effectiveness research (CER) that will guide clinical decision making about available treatment options for lung diseases and sleep disorders. A multidisciplinary group of experts with experience in efficacy, effectiveness, implementation, and economic research identified (a) what types of studies the domain of CER in lung diseases and sleep disorders should include, (b) the criteria and process for setting priorities, and (c) current resources for and barriers to CER in lung diseases. Key recommendations were to (1) increase efforts to engage stakeholders in developing CER questions and study designs; (2) invest in further development of databases and other infrastructure, including efficient methods for data sharing; (3) make full use of a broad range of study designs; (4) increase the appropriate use of observational designs and the support of methodologic research; (5) ensure that committees that review CER grant applications include persons with appropriate perspective and expertise; and (6) further develop the workforce for CER by supporting training opportunities that focus on the methodologic and practical skills needed.
randomized controlled trials; observational studies; implementation; study designs; methodology
Recent increases in patient cost-sharing for health care have lent increasing importance to monitoring cost-related changes in health care use. Despite the widespread use of survey questions to measure changes in health care use and related behaviors, scant data exists on the reliability of such questions.
We administered a cross-sectional survey to a stratified random sample of families in a New England health plan's high deductible health plan (HDHP) with ≥ $500 in annualized out-of-pocket expenditures. Enrollees were asked about their knowledge of their plan, information seeking, behavior change associated with having a deductible, experience of delay in care due in part to cost, and hypothetical delay in care due in part to cost. Initial respondents were mailed a follow-up survey within two weeks of each family returning the original survey. We computed several agreement statistics to measure the test-retest reliability for select questions. We also conducted continuity adjusted chi-square, and McNemar tests in both the original and follow-up samples to measure the degree to which our results could be reproduced. Analyses were stratified by self-reported income.
The test-retest reliability was moderate for the majority of questions (0.41 - 0.60) and the level of test-retest reliability did not differ substantially across each of the broader domains of questions. The observed proportions of respondents with delayed or foregone pediatric, adult, or any family care were similar when comparing the original and follow-up surveys. In the original survey, respondents in the lower-income group were more likely to delay or forego pediatric care, adult care, or any family care. All of the tests comparing income groups in the follow-up survey produced the same result as in the original survey.
In this population of HDHP beneficiaries, we found that survey questions concerning plan knowledge, information seeking, and delayed or foregone care were moderately reliable. Our results offer reassurance for researchers using survey information to study the effects cost sharing on health care utilization.
High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are a new and controversial approach to increasing the share of health care costs paid by patients. Our study had the following aims: (1) to describe the experiences of families with HDHPs who had incurred high out-of-pocket costs and (2) to identify areas where clinicians could support more effective health care decisions by such families.
We conducted four focus groups with adults whose families had HDHPs in a New England-based health plan and had experienced high or unexpected out-of-pocket health care costs during the past 12 months. Transcripts of audio recordings were independently coded by three investigators using modified grounded theory techniques.
The 21 focus group participants had a good general understanding of how their HDHP worked, but reported confusion about specific processes due to the plans' complexity. They described heightened awareness of health care costs, and identified important barriers to their ability to control costs. These included needing to seek care for urgent problems without having the time to assess potential costs; having mistaken expectations about what services the HDHP covered; and being reluctant to discuss costs with doctors. They attempted to control costs by delaying or avoiding visits to doctors, but felt they had little control over costs once a clinical encounter had begun.
Patients with HDHPs reported heightened sensitivity to health care costs, and described important barriers to their ability to make effective choices. Helping such patients make optimal decisions will likely require systems-level changes that involve clinicians and health insurers.
health policy; health insurance; health care reform; costs; decision-making
The emergence of pandemic H1N1 influenza in 2009 has prompted public health responses, including production and licensure of new influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccines. Safety monitoring is a critical component of vaccination programs. As proof-of-concept, the authors mimicked near real-time prospective surveillance for prespecified neurologic and allergic adverse events among enrollees in 8 medical care organizations (the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project) who received seasonal trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine during the 2005/06–2007/08 influenza seasons. In self-controlled case series analysis, the risk of adverse events in a prespecified exposure period following vaccination was compared with the risk in 1 control period for the same individual either before or after vaccination. In difference-in-difference analysis, the relative risk in exposed versus control periods each season was compared with the relative risk in previous seasons since 2000/01. The authors used Poisson-based analysis to compare the risk of Guillian-Barré syndrome following vaccination in each season with that in previous seasons. Maximized sequential probability ratio tests were used to adjust for repeated analyses on weekly data. With administration of 1,195,552 doses to children under age 18 years and 4,773,956 doses to adults, no elevated risk of adverse events was identified. Near real-time surveillance for selected adverse events can be implemented prospectively to rapidly assess seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine safety.
cohort studies; influenza, human; influenza vaccines; managed care programs; population surveillance; safety; vaccines
There is concern that high-deductible health plans may have negative effects on vulnerable groups. The objective of this study was to compare the characteristics of families who have children and switch to high-deductible health plans with those who stay in traditional plans.
This double-cohort study included families who had children aged <18 years and were enrolled in a Massachusetts health plan through employers who did not offer a choice of health plans. We identified families who had traditional health maintenance organization plans for a 12-month baseline period between 2001 and 2004 and compared families whose coverage was then switched to a high-deductible health plan by their employers with similar families whose employer chose to remain in the traditional plan (controls). Data came from health plan enrollment and claims datasets and census data. We used multivariate logistic regression models to compare the characteristics of families who were switched to high-deductible health plans with controls.
We identified 839 families who had children and whose employer switched them to high-deductible health plans and 5133 controls. Among families with large employers, the adjusted odds of the employer switching to a high-deductible health plan were higher for families living in high-poverty neighborhoods. Among families with small employers, the adjusted odds of the employer switching to a high-deductible health plan were lower for families with more children, above-average family morbidity, and baseline total expenditures >$7000.
Among families with large employers offering a single health plan, those from low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be switched to high-deductible health plans. In contrast, families with small employers offering a single plan are more likely to be switched to high-deductible health plans if they are healthier and have lower baseline costs. These findings suggest that families with children in high-deductible plans may represent two distinct groups, one with higher-risk characteristics and another with lower-risk characteristics compared with those in traditional plans.
health insurance; deductible; cost sharing; health policy; health services research
Self-assessment of symptoms by patients with chronic conditions is an important element of disease management. A recent study in a commercially-insured population found that patients who received automated telephone calls for asthma self-assessment felt they benefitted from the calls. Few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of disease self-assessment in Medicaid populations. The goals of this study were to: (1) assess the feasibility of asthma self-assessment in a population predominantly insured by Medicaid, (2) study whether adding a gift card incentive increased completion of the self-assessment survey, and (3) evaluate how the self-assessment affected processes and outcomes of care.
We studied adults and children aged 4 years and older who were insured by a Medicaid-focused managed care organization (MCO) in a pre- and post-intervention study. During the pre-incentive period, patients with computerized utilization data that met specific criteria for problematic asthma control were mailed the Asthma Control Test (ACT), a self-assessment survey, and asked to return it to the MCO. During the intervention period, patients were offered a $20 gift card for returning the completed ACT to the MCO. To evaluate clinical outcomes, we used computerized claims data to assess the number of hospitalization visits and emergency department visits experienced in the 3 months after receiving the ACT. To evaluate whether the self-management intervention improved processes of care, we conducted telephone interviews with patients who returned or did not return the ACT by mail.
During the pre-incentive period, 1183 patients were identified as having problems with asthma control; 25 (2.0%) of these returned the ACT to the MCO. In contrast, during the incentive period, 1612 patients were identified as having problems with asthma control and 87 (5.4%) of these returned the ACT to the MCO (p < 0.0001). Of all 95 ACTs that were returned, 87% had a score of 19 or less, which suggested poor asthma control.
During the 3 months after they received the ACT, patients who completed it had similar numbers of outpatient visits, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations for asthma as patients who did not complete the ACT. We completed interviews with 95 patients, including 28 who had completed the ACT and 67 who had not. Based on an ACT administered at the time of the interview, patients who had previously returned the ACT to the MCO had asthma control similar to those who had not (mean scores of 14.2 vs. 14.6, p = 0.70). Patients had similar rates of contacting their providers within the past 2 months whether they had completed the mailed ACT or not (71% vs. 76%, p = 0.57).
Mailing asthma self-assessment surveys to patients with poorly controlled asthma was not associated with better asthma-associated outcomes or processes of care in the Medicaid population studied. Adding a gift card incentive did not meaningfully increase response rates. Asthma disease management programs for Medicaid populations will most likely need to involve alternative strategies for engaging patients and their providers in managing their conditions.
Many children with asthma do not take medications as prescribed. We studied parents of children with asthma to define patterns of non-concordance between families’ use of asthma controller medications and clinicians’ recommendations, examine parents’ explanatory models (EM) of asthma, and describe relationships between patterns of non-concordance and EM.
Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with parents of children with persistent asthma. Grounded theory analysis identified recurrent themes and relationships between reported medication use, EMs, and other factors.
Twelve of the 37 parents reported non-concordance with providers’ recommendations. Three types of non-concordance were identified: unintentional – parents believed they were following recommendations; unplanned – parents reported intending to give controller medications but could not; and intentional – parents stated giving medication was the wrong course of action. Analysis revealed two EMs of asthma: chronic – parents believed their child always has asthma; and intermittent – parents believed asthma was a problem their child sometimes developed.
Concordance or non-concordance with recommended use of medications were related to EM’s and family context and took on three different patterns associated with medication underuse.
Efforts to reduce medication underuse in children with asthma may be optimized by identifying different types of non-concordance and tailoring interventions accordingly.
asthma; adherence; concordance; qualitative methods; explanatory models
We implemented an automated vaccine adverse event surveillance and reporting system based in an ambulatory electronic medical record to improve underreporting and incomplete reporting that prevails in spontaneous systems. This automated system flags potential vaccine adverse events for the clinician when a diagnosis is entered, prompts clinicians to consider the vaccine as a cause of the condition, and facilitates reporting of suspected adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
During five months, a total of 33,420 vaccinations were administered during 14,466 encounters. There were 5,914 follow-up contacts by vaccinees within 14 days of the vaccination visits; 686 (11.6%) generated an alert. Clinicians submitted VAERS reports for 23 of these (0.69 per 1,000 vaccine doses), which is almost 6 times the dose-based reporting rate to VAERS. 1 Clinician surveys indicated that it took a minimal amount of time to respond to the alerts. Of those who felt that an alert corresponded to an actual vaccine adverse event, the majority used the reporting feature to file a VAERS report.
We believe that elicited surveillance via real time prompts to clinicians holds substantial promise. By coupling simplified reporting with the initial prompt, clinicians can consider and report a vaccine adverse event electronically in a few moments during the office visit.
The objectives of this study were to: (1) identify modifiable factors influencing receipt of influenza vaccination among children with asthma, and (2) to evaluate the effect of heightened media attention on vaccination rates.
During November and December 2003, we interviewed parents of children with asthma about their experiences with and beliefs about influenza vaccination. We randomly selected 500 children from a study population of 2,140 children identified with asthma in a managed care organization in Massachusetts. We obtained data on influenza vaccination status from computerized medical records and determined significant factors influencing receipt of influenza vaccination.
Children were more likely to be vaccinated if their parent recalled a physician recommendation (odds ratio [OR] 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.5, 4.5), believed the vaccine worked well (OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.4, 2.8), or expressed little worry about vaccine adverse effects (OR 1.3; 95% CI 1.0, 1.6), or if the child was younger (OR 1.1 per year of age; 95% CI 1.0, 1.2).
During the study period, there was heightened media attention about influenza illness and the vaccine. The influenza vaccination rate for children with asthma was 43% in 2003–04 compared with 27% in 2002–03. Comparison of weekly influenza vaccination rates in 2003–04 and 2002–03 suggested that the media attention was associated with the increase in vaccination rates.
Physician recommendations and parental education about influenza vaccine availability, effectiveness, and adverse effects are potentially important influences on influenza vaccination. Our findings suggest that media coverage of the risks of influenza was associated with a significant increase in vaccination rates.
In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Public Health Service recommended suspending the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine due to concerns about potential mercury exposure. A previous report found that overall national hepatitis B vaccination coverage rates decreased in association with the suspension. It is unknown whether this underimmunization occurred uniformly or was associated with how providers changed their practices for the timing of hepatitis B vaccine doses. We evaluate the impact of the birth dose suspension on underimmunization for the hepatitis B vaccine series among 24-month-olds in five large provider groups and describe provider practices potentially associated with underimmunization following the suspension.
Retrospective cohort study of children enrolled in five large provider groups in the United States (A-E). Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between the birth dose suspension and a child's probability of being underimmunized at 24 months for the hepatitis B vaccine series.
Prior to July 1999, the percent of children who received a hepatitis B vaccination at birth varied widely (3% to 90%) across the five provider groups. After the national recommendation to suspend the hepatitis B birth dose, the percent of children who received a hepatitis B vaccination at birth decreased in all provider groups, and this trend persisted after the policy was reversed. The most substantial decreases were observed in the two provider groups that shifted the first hepatitis B dose from birth to 5–6 months of age. Accounting for temporal trend, children in these two provider groups were significantly more likely to be underimmunized for the hepatitis B series at 24 months of age if they were in the birth dose suspension cohort compared with baseline (Group D OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.7 – 4.4; Group E OR 3.1, 95% CI 2.3 – 4.2). This represented 6% more children in Group D and 9% more children in Group E who were underimmunized in the suspension cohort compared with baseline. Children in the reversal cohort in these groups remained significantly more likely to be underimmunized compared with baseline. In contrast, in a third provider group where the typical timing of the third dose was unchanged and in two other provider groups whose hepatitis B vaccination schedules were unaffected by the birth dose suspension, hepatitis B vaccination coverage either was maintained or improved.
When the hepatitis B birth dose was suspended, provider groups that moved the first dose of vaccination to 5–6 months of age or later had decreases in hepatitis B vaccine coverage at 24 months. These findings suggest that as vaccine policy changes occur, providers could attempt to minimize underimmunization by adopting vaccination schedules that minimize delays in the recommended timing of vaccine doses.
Vaccinating children aged 6–23 months, plus all other children at high-risk, will likely be more effective than vaccinating all children against influenza.
We estimated cost-effectiveness of annually vaccinating children not at high risk with inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) to range from US $12,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) saved for children ages 6–23 months to $119,000 per QALY saved for children ages 12–17 years. For children at high risk (preexisting medical conditions) ages 6–35 months, vaccination with IIV was cost saving. For children at high risk ages 3–17 years, vaccination cost $1,000–$10,000 per QALY. Among children not at high risk ages 5–17 years, live, attenuated influenza vaccine had a similar cost-effectiveness as IIV. Risk status was more important than age in determining the economic effects of annual vaccination, and vaccination was less cost-effective as the child's age increased. Thus, routine vaccination of all children is likely less cost-effective than vaccination of all children ages 6–23 months plus all other children at high risk.
influenza; vaccination; child health; cost-effectiveness analysis; economic; dispatch
To characterize and describe variability in processes of asthma care and services tailored for low–income populations in practice sites participating in Medicaid managed care (MMC).
Eighty-five practice sites affiliated with five not-for-profit organizations participating in managed Medicaid (three group-model health maintenance organizations [HMOs] and two Medicaid managed care organizations [MCOs]).
Study Design/Data Collection
We conducted a mail survey of managed care practice site informants using a conceptual model that included chronic illness care and services targeting low-income populations. The survey asked how frequently a number of processes related to asthma care occurred at the practice sites (on a scale from “never” to “always”). We report mean and standard deviations of item scores and rankings relative to other items. We used within-MCO intraclass correlations to assess how consistent responses were among practice sites in the same MCO.
Processes of care related to asthma varied greatly in how often practice sites reported doing them, with information systems and self-management support services ranking lowest. There was also significant variation in the availability of services targeting low-income populations, specifically relating to cultural diversity, communication, and enrollee empowerment. Very little of the site-to-site variation was attributable to the MCO.
Our conceptual framework provides a means of assessing the provision of chronic illness care for vulnerable populations. There is room for improvement in provision of chronic asthma care for children in managed Medicaid, particularly in the areas of self-management support and information systems. The lack of consistency within MCOs on many processes of care suggests that care may be driven more at the practice site level than the MCO level, which has implications for quality improvement efforts.
Chronic illness care; low-income populations; Medicaid managed care
The introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) to the U.S. recommended childhood immunization schedule in the year 2000 added three injections to the number of vaccinations a child is expected to receive during the first year of life. Surveys have suggested that the addition of PCV has led some immunization providers to move other routine childhood vaccinations to later ages, which could increase the possibility of missing these vaccines. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether introduction of PCV affected immunization coverage for recommended childhood vaccinations among 13-month olds in four large provider groups.
In this retrospective cohort study, we analyzed computerized data on vaccinations for 33,319 children in four large provider groups before and after the introduction of PCV. The primary outcome was whether the child was up to date for all non-PCV recommended vaccinations at 13 months of age. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between PCV introduction and the primary outcome. The secondary outcome was the number of days spent underimmunized by 13 months. The association between PCV introduction and the secondary outcome was evaluated using a two-part modelling approach using logistic and negative binomial regression.
Overall, 93% of children were up-to-date at 13 months, and 70% received all non-PCV vaccinations without any delay. Among the entire study population, immunization coverage was maintained or slightly increased from the pre-PCV to post-PCV periods. After multivariate adjustment, children born after PCV entered routine use were less likely to be up-to-date at 13 months in one provider group (Group C: OR = 0.5; 95% CI: 0.3 – 0.8) and were less likely to have received all vaccine doses without any delay in two Groups (Group B: OR = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.3 – 0.6; Group C: OR = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.4 – 0.7). This represented 3% fewer children in Group C who were up-to-date and 14% (Group C) to 16% (Group B) fewer children who spent no time underimmunized at 13 months after PCV entered routine use compared to the pre-PCV baseline. Some disruptions in immunization delivery were also observed concurrent with temporary recommendations to suspend the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine, preceding the introduction of PCV.
These findings suggest that the introduction of PCV did not harm overall immunization coverage rates in populations with good access to primary care. However, we did observe some disruptions in the timely delivery of other vaccines coincident with the introduction of PCV and the suspension of the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine. This study highlights the need for continued vigilance in coming years as the U.S. introduces new childhood vaccines and policies that may change the timing of existing vaccines.
Influenza vaccination recently has been recommended for children 6–23 months old, but is not currently recommended for routine use in non-high-risk older children. Information on disease impact, costs, benefits, risks, and community preferences could help guide decisions about which age and risk groups should be vaccinated and strategies for improving coverage. The objective of this study was to measure preferences and willingness-to-pay for changes in health-related quality of life associated with uncomplicated influenza and two rarely-occurring vaccination-related adverse events (anaphylaxis and Guillain-Barré syndrome) in children.
We conducted telephone interviews with adult members selected at random from a large New England HMO (n = 112). Respondents were given descriptions of four health outcomes: uncomplicated influenza in a hypothetical 1-year-old child of their own, uncomplicated influenza in a hypothetical 14-year-old child of their own, anaphylaxis following vaccination, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. "Uncomplicated influenza" did not require a physician's visit or hospitalization. Preferences (values) for these health outcomes were measured using time-tradeoff and willingness-to-pay questions. Time-tradeoff questions asked the adult to assume they had a child and to consider how much time from the end of their own life they would be willing to surrender to avoid the health outcome in the child.
Respondents said they would give a median of zero days of their lives to prevent an episode of uncomplicated influenza in either their (hypothetical) 1-year-old or 14-year-old, 30 days to prevent an episode of vaccination-related anaphylaxis, and 3 years to prevent a vaccination-related case of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Median willingness-to-pay to prevent uncomplicated influenza in a 1-year-old was $175, uncomplicated influenza in a 14-year-old was $100, anaphylaxis $400, and Guillain-Barré syndrome $4000. The median willingness-to-pay for an influenza vaccination for their children with no risk of anaphylaxis or Guillain-Barré syndrome was $50 and $100, respectively.
Most respondents said they would not be willing to trade any time from their own lives to prevent uncomplicated influenza in a child of their own, and the time traded did not vary by the age of the hypothetical affected child. However, adults did indicate a willingness-to-pay to prevent uncomplicated influenza in children, and that they would give more money to prevent the illness in a 1-year-old than in a 14-year-old. Respondents also indicated a willingness to pay a premium for a vaccine without any risk of severe complications.
time-tradeoff; willingness-to-pay; influenza; vaccine; children
The incidence of reported adolescent and adult pertussis continues to rise in the United States. Acellular pertussis vaccines for adolescents and adults have been developed and may be available soon for use in the U.S. Our objectives were: (1) to describe patient valuations of pertussis disease and vaccination; and (2) to compare valuations for short-term and long-term health states associated with pertussis.
We conducted telephone surveys with 515 adult patients and parents of adolescent patients with pertussis in Massachusetts to determine valuations of pertussis-related health states for disease and vaccination using time trade-off (TTO) and contingent valuation (CV) techniques. Respondents were randomized to complete either a short-term or long-term TTO exercise. Discrimination between health states for each valuation technique was assessed using Tukey's method, and valuations for short-term vs. long-term health states were compared using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test.
Three hundred three (59%) and 309 (60%) respondents completed and understood the TTO and CV exercises, respectively. Overall, respondents gave lower valuations (lower TTO and higher CV values) to avoid a given state for adolescent/adult disease compared to vaccine adverse events. Infant complications due to pertussis were considered worse than adolescent/adult disease, regardless of the method of valuation. The short-term TTO resulted in lower mean valuations and larger mean differences between health states than the long-term TTO exercise.
Pertussis was considered worse than adverse events due to vaccination. Short-term health-state valuation is better able to discriminate among health states, which is useful for cost-utility analysis.
pertussis; time trade-off; willingness-to-pay; short-term health-state
The United States is implementing plans to immunize 500,000 hospital-based healthcare workers against smallpox. Vaccination is voluntary, and it is unknown what factors drive vaccine acceptance. This study's aims were to estimate the proportion of workers willing to accept vaccination and to identify factors likely to influence their decisions.
The survey was conducted among physicians, nurses, and others working primarily in emergency departments or intensive care units at 21 acute-care hospitals in 10 states during the two weeks before the U.S. national immunization program for healthcare workers was announced in December 2002. Of the questionnaires distributed, 1,165 were returned, for a response rate of 81%. The data were analyzed by logistic regression and were adjusted for clustering within hospital and for different number of responses per hospital, using generalized linear mixed models and SAS's NLMIXED procedure.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said they would definitely or probably be vaccinated, while 39% were undecided or inclined against it. Fifty-three percent rated the risk of a bioterrorist attack using smallpox in the United States in the next two years as either intermediate or high. Forty-seven percent did not feel well-informed about the risks and benefits of vaccination. Principal concerns were adverse reactions and the risk of transmitting vaccinia. In multivariate analysis, four variables were associated with willingness to be vaccinated: perceived risk of an attack, self-assessed knowledge about smallpox vaccination, self-assessed previous smallpox vaccination status, and gender.
The success of smallpox vaccination efforts will ultimately depend on the relative weight in people's minds of the risk of vaccine adverse events compared with the risk of being exposed to the disease. Although more than half of the respondents thought the likelihood of a bioterrorist smallpox attack was intermediate or high, less than 10% of the group slated for vaccination has actually accepted it at this time. Unless new information about the threat of a smallpox attack becomes available, healthcare workers' perceptions of the vaccine's risks will likely continue to drive their ongoing decisions about smallpox vaccination.