Preferences and understanding their effects on health*
- 1Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1 7HT, UK
- 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
- Professor K McPherson
Preference for a particular intervention may, possibly via complicated pathways, itself confer an outcome advantage which will be subsumed in unblind randomised trials as part of the measured effectiveness of the intervention. Where more attractive interventions are compared with less attractive ones, any difference could therefore be a consequence of attractiveness and not its intrinsic worth. For health promotion interventions this is clearly important, but we cannot tell how important it is for therapeutic interventions without special studies to measure or refute such effects. These are difficult to do and are complex. Until the therapeutic effects of preference itself are more clearly understood, understanding the true therapeutic effects will be compromised, at least in principle.
↵* This paper is an amended version of Chapter 9 in Health promotion—new discipline or multi discipline (Edmondson R, Kelleher C, eds), published by the Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 2000.