Self-Care Or Professional Help? The Role Of Symptom Severity

Aberdeen, UK – To design cost-effective health services, we need to understand how people choose to manage the symptoms they experience.

Building on previous work, Lisa Rennie, Dr. Terry Porteous and Professor Mandy Ryan from the University of Aberdeen, evaluated how preferences for medical help increase as perceived severity of symptoms increase.

Respondents to the survey said they preferred to self-manage minor symptoms of illnesses. To manage potentially serious symptoms, a medical practitioner was valued (in monetary terms) more than three times higher than self-care. However, in order to reduce the waiting time and cost of managing their symptoms, people were willing to compromise on which health professional they consulted.

Dr. Terry Porteous comments “Although people seem to prefer self-management of minor conditions, experience tells us that many GP consultations are for symptoms that could be managed without medical intervention. Initiatives such as the pharmacy-led Minor Ailments Scheme in the UK, which supports people wishing to practise self-care, may help to reduce future GP consultations for minor conditions.”

The article, “Preferences for managing symptoms of differing severity: A discrete choice experiment,” which describes the full details of the discrete choice experiment used to measure people’s preferences for symptom management, can be found in Value in Health, the official journal of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR).


Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) publishes papers, concepts, and ideas that advance the field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research as well as policy papers to help health care leaders make evidence-based decisions. The journal is published bi-monthly and has over 8,000 subscribers (clinicians, decision-makers, and researchers worldwide).

International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

For more information: www.ispor.org

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