Understanding patients’ preferences: a systematic review of psychological instruments used in patients’ preference and decision studies

Selena Russo, Chiara Jongerius, Flavia Faccio, Silvia Pizzoli, Cathy Anne Pinto, Jorien Veldwijk, Rosanne Janssens, Gwenda Simons, M Falahee, Esther de Bekker-Grob, Isabelle Huys, Douwe Postmus, Ulrik Kihlbom, Gabriella Pravettoni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Research has been mainly focused on how to elicit patient preferences, with less attention on why patients form certain preferences. Objectives: To assess which psychological instruments are currently used and which psychological constructs are known to have an impact on patients' preferences and health-related decisions including the formation of preferences and preference heterogeneity. Methods: A systematic database search was undertaken to identify relevant studies. From the selected studies, the following information was extracted: study objectives, study population, design, psychological dimensions investigated, and instruments used to measure psychological variables. Results: Thirty-three studies were identified that described the association between a psychological construct, measured using a validated instrument, and patients' preferences or health-related decisions. We identified 33 psychological instruments and 18 constructs, and categorized the instruments into 5 groups, namely, motivational factors, cognitive factors, individual differences, emotion and mood, and health beliefs. Conclusions: This review provides an overview of the psychological factors and related instruments in the context of patients' preferences and decisions in healthcare settings. Our results indicate that measures of health literacy, numeracy, and locus of control have an impact on health-related preferences and decisions. Within the category of constructs that could explain preference and decision heterogeneity, health locus of control is a strong predictor of decisions in several healthcare contexts and is useful to consider when designing a patient preference study. Future research should continue to explore the association of psychological constructs with preference formation and heterogeneity to build on these initial recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-501
Number of pages11
JournalValue in Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Patient preference
  • psychological variables
  • instruments
  • measurements
  • stated preferences
  • decision making


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