Public Preferences for Allocating Ventilators in an Intensive Care Unit: A Discrete Choice Experiment

Richard Norman, Suzanne Robinson, Helen Dickinson, Iestyn Williams, Elena Meshcheriakova, Kathleen Manipis, Matthew Anstey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Web of Science)


Background and Objective: During the COVID-19 pandemic, resources in intensive care units (ICUs) have the potential to be inadequate to treat all those who might benefit. Therefore, it is paramount to identify the views of the community regarding how to allocate such resources. This study aims to quantify Australian community preferences for ventilation allocation. Methods: A discrete choice experiment was designed and administrated to an adult Australian online panel. Each survey respondent answered 12 choice sets from a total design of 120. Each choice set placed the respondent in the role of hypothetical decision maker, prioritising care between two patients. Conditional logit, mixed logit regression and latent class analysis were used to analyse the data. Additionally, we asked a series of attitudinal questions about different methods of making such decisions in practice, focusing on who should be responsible. Results: A total of 1050 community members completed the survey and responded to each choice. Dimensions considered most important were age, likely effectiveness, smoking status, whether the person has dependents, whether they are a healthcare worker, and whether they have a disability or not. Estimating marginal rates of substitution between patient characteristics and chance of survival if ventilated yielded values of up to 30 percentage points if the patient was 70 years old relative to being 30. However, respondents typically said they would prefer such decisions to be made by medical professionals. Conclusion: This study demonstrated the preferences of the community to allocation of ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of such information should be treated with some caution as the underlying reason for such preferences are unclear, and respondents themselves preferred the decision to be made by others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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