Understanding Public Preferences for Allocating Ventilators in an Intensive Care Unit - SurveyEngine GmbH

Health Research Case Study –

Understanding Public Preferences for Allocating Ventilators in an Intensive Care Unit


The COVID-19 pandemic presented shortages in healthcare resources, including the availability of ventilators in intensive care units. How should ventilators be allocated among those who need them? Researchers in Australia wanted to understand the public’s perspectives and engaged SurveyEngine to help them gather insights.

Using a Discrete Choice Experiment to Inform Public Policy

Preference research allows decision makers to hear the voices of the public. However, in many areas of health decisions, the public cannot actually make repeated choices, ruling out observational research. In these cases, stated preference methods can shed light on people’s preferences. Specifically, a discrete choice experiment (DCE) is a stated-preference design that can measure an individual’s trade-offs between different features of choice options. A DCE is an efficient way to build a model of a population’s values, allowing them to be accurately incorporated into policy decisions.


For this project, a DCE was designed which asked Australians to make ventilator allocation decisions in light of considerations such as age, likely effectiveness, smoking status, whether the patient has dependents, whether they are a healthcare worker, and whether they have a disability. Our repeated collaboration with this research team allowed SurveyEngine to efficiently program the survey on our platform. We then recruited and compensated 1,050 Australian participants representative of the general population before quickly delivering clean datasets. The rapid study completion time allowed the public’s perspectives to be disseminated to stakeholders and decision makers during the crucial and rapidly-evolving period of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Norman, R., Robinson, S., Dickinson, H., Williams, I., Meshcheriakova, E., Manipis, K., & Anstey, M. (2021). Public Preferences for Allocating Ventilators in an Intensive Care Unit: A Discrete Choice Experiment. The patient, 14(3), 319–330. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40271-021-00498-z

Scroll to Top