Settumba SN, Shanahan M, Botha W, Ramli MZ, Chambers GM. Reliability and validity of the contingent valuation method for estimating willingness to pay: a case of in vitro fertilisation. Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2019 Feb;17(1):103-10. doi: 10.1007/s40258-018-0433-3.

BACKGROUND: The contingent valuation (CV) method is an alternative approach to typical health economic methods for valuing interventions that have both health and non-health outcomes. Fertility treatment, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), fall into this category because of the significant non-health outcomes associated with having children.

To estimate the general population's willingness to pay (WTP) for one cycle of IVF and one year of IVF treatment, and to test the reliability and validity of a CV instrument.

METHODS: Three online CV surveys were administered to a total of 1870 participants from the Australian general population using an ex-post perspective, that is, they assumed they were infertile and needed IVF to conceive a child. Participants answered questions with starting point WTP bids of 2018 Australian dollars (AU$) 4000 or $10,000 for the cost of one IVF cycle, and treatment success rates of 10%, 20% and 50% per IVF cycle. Tests for reliability, internal construct validity, starting point bias, and external validity were performed.

RESULTS: Depending on the success rate and the starting point WTP bid, the mean WTP for one IVF cycle ranged from $6135 to $13,561, while the mean WTP for one year of IVF treatment varied from $17,080 to $31,006. The CV method was reliable and satisfied internal construct and external criterion validity. However strong starting point bias was evident, rendering the mean WTP values highly imprecise.

CONCLUSION: The CV method holds promise for eliciting the value of interventions, such as fertility treatment, that have significant health and non-health outcomes. Survey instruments that prevent starting point bias are essential. Comparing the results of CV methods to other value elicitation methods is needed to confirm convergent validity.

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