Aims: To estimate the willingness to pay for health improvements among participants in the programme ''Physical Activity on Prescription''. The objective was also to examine predictors such as income, education level, health status, activity level and BMI, differences for long- and short-term health effects of physical activity and differences between a high- and low-intensity activity group.
Methods: Willingness to pay (WTP) data were collected alongside a randomized, controlled trial in Sweden 2007, and 128 sedentary individuals, 20-80 years old (intervention/high-intensity group n = 71, control/low-intensity group n = 57), with lifestyle-related health problems answered open-ended questions in this contingent valuation study.
Results: The highest mean WTP (59/SEK 552) was stated for an immediate health improvement, but no significant differences compared with long-term health improvements. The high-intensity group showed higher WTP-values for all health improvements, but without significant differences compared with a low-intensity group. Regression analyses show strong associations between a higher level of education and the WTP for improved well-being and improved health, and also between income and the WTP for improved well-being. There are significant correlations between the WTP and the variables BMI, income and education level, as expected from economic theories.
Conclusions: The willingness to pay for the health improvements of exercise is influenced by a higher education level, income and BMI. The highest WTP for a health outcome of physical activity is for an immediate health improvement. The results of this randomized controlled trial in primary health care may be of interest to decision makers when evaluating different approaches to promoting physical activity among people who are sedentary.