Background: Patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) frequently require long-term therapy to prevent relapse. Treatments such as 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA [mesalazine]) are efficacious and well tolerated, but adherence to treatment is often poor.
Objective: This discrete-choice experiment (DCE) was conducted to estimate differences in patient preferences for 5-ASA treatment in mild-to-moderate UC based on levels of self-reported adherence. Inclusion of patients residing in the US, UK, Germany, and Canada allowed for assessment of possible cultural differences in patient preferences.
Methods: DCE attributes were determined through literature review, clinician consultation, and patient interviews. Six treatment attributes were identified: ease of swallowing, time of day, quantity, extent of flare resolution, likelihood of flare occurrence, and cost. A total of 400 patients in four countries completed the DCE and adherence (Modified Morisky Scale) surveys. Data were analyzed using generalized estimating equations to estimate patient preference and willingness to pay (WTP) by levels of self-reported adherence and country of residence.
Results: All attributes had expected polarity and were significant predictors of patient preference. Self-reported 'good' versus 'poor' adherers significantly preferred symptom control (p = 0.0108) and mucosal healing (p = 0.0190) attributes. All patients stated preference for symptom control/mucosal healing and flare risk attributes; the latter attribute was significantly preferred across all countries. Country differences in patient preference for convenience versus clinical attributes were found. Overall, patients were willing to pay £29.24 ($US46.27) per month for symptom control and mucosal healing, and an additional £78.81 ($US124.70) per month for reduction in flare risk to 10% per year (WTP costs were equalized between each country using the published 2008 purchasing power parity). Those with flares in the past year significantly preferred avoiding future flares (p < 0.0001) versus other attributes, as well as lower risk of flares (10%, likelihood ratio: 0.64-0.70).
Conclusions: Findings indicate that self-reported adherers to UC therapy have a stronger preference for clinical benefits over other treatment attributes, suggesting that positive patient assessment of effectiveness may influence adherence. Ongoing clinician assessment of patient preferences for treatment attributes, as well as education on the importance of adherence, may help improve treatment outcomes in UC.