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Shu Fen Wong, Richard Norman, Trisha Lynette Dunning, David Michael Ashley, Mustafa Khasraw, Theresa Margaret Hayes, Ian Collins and Paula Kate Lorgelly

Background: This study sought to understand the preferences of patients with cancer and the trade-offs between appointment attributes using discrete choice experiment (DCE). Methods and Study Design: Patients with cancer at 3 hospitals completed a self-administered DCE. Each scenario described 6 attributes: expertise of health care professionals (HCPs), familiarity of doctors with patients' medical history, waiting time, accompaniment by family/friends, travel time, and out-of-pocket costs. Patient preferences were estimated using logistic regression. Willingness to pay (WTP) estimates were derived from regression coefficients. Results: Of 512 patients contacted, 185 returned the questionnaire. The mean age was 61 years, and 60% of respondents were female. The mean time since cancer diagnosis was 34 months, 90% had received treatment; and 61% had early-stage disease. The most important attributes were expertise and familiarity of doctors with patients' medical history; distance traveled was least likely to influence patient preferences. The WTP analysis estimated that patients were willing to pay $680 (95% CI, 470–891) for an appointment with a specialist, $571 (95% CI, 388–754) for doctors familiar with their history, $422 (95% CI, 262–582) for shorter waiting times, $399 (95% CI, 249–549) to be accompanied by family/friends, and $301 (95% CI, 162–441) for shorter traveling times. Male patients had a stronger preference for accompaniment by family/friends. The expertise of HCP was the most important attribute for patients regardless of geographic remoteness. Conclusions: Our study can assist the development of patient-centered health care models that improve patient access to experienced HCPs, support the role of primary care providers during the cancer journey, and educate patients about the roles of non-oncology HCPs to cope with increasing demand for cancer care.