Year of Publication

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Glenn Blomquist

Abstract

Recent medical studies have led cardiologists to revise theories regarding the cause of heart attacks. Rather than a gradual clogging of the arteries, eruption of a vulnerable plaque is thought to be the cause of approximately 75% of all heart attacks. As a result, traditional risk factors are no longer sufficient indicators of who is at risk for a heart attack. Therefore, this research investigates the willingness to pay (WTP) for a new, hypothetical detection (screening) and treatment method for vulnerable plaque. For this study, two survey instruments were developed that take advantage of the visual and interactive aspects of the Internet. Individuals report their perception of heart attack risk both prior to and after receiving new information on who cardiologists currently believe to be at risk for a heart attack. In addition, respondents are provided with information about the effectiveness and risks associated with screening and treatment. Using webbased surveys, which follow a contingent valuation format, an iterative bidding process is used to elicit the respondents WTP for either the screening or treatment method. Internet, on-line surveys are often prone to coverage bias; however, the survey valuing screening (a simple blood test) used a Knowledge Networks panel and resulted in a sample of 268 adults that is essentially representative of the general population. The survey valuing treatment (a more invasive heart catheterization procedure) was administered only to individuals with doctor-diagnosed heart problems, who are presumably more familiar with these types of medical decisions, and resulted in a sample of 295 adults. The mean for screening is $69 and the mean WTP for treatment that is 85% effective is $5,816. A two-part model is used to identify the factors that influence WTP, as well as the decision to receive the screening/treatment. The data suggests that these factors vary across genders. The data obtained for this study demonstrate construct validity; therefore, the results may provide useful information for policy analysis regarding the screening and treatment of heart attack.

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