Factors affecting willingness to pay for NHS-based orthodontic treatment

Padhraig S Fleming*, Fiorella Colonio-Salazar, Andrea Waylen, Martyn Sherriff, Donald Burden, Ciaran O Neill, Andy Ness, Jonathan Sandy, Tony Ireland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Objective To assess factors affecting willingness to pay for orthodontic treatment.

Methods An online discrete choice experiment and willingness to pay study was conducted on a convenience sample of 250 participants aged 16 and above over a four-month period. Participants completed a series of stated-preference tasks, in which they viewed choice sets with two orthodontic treatment options involving different combinations of attributes: family income; cost to patient; cause of problem; prevention of future problems; age; severity of the problem; and self-esteem/confidence.

Results Family income, cost to patient, cause of the problem, age and self-esteem/confidence were the most important attributes influencing participants' decisions to have orthodontic treatment. Participants felt that free NHS-based orthodontic provision should be prioritised for those under 18, regardless of family income, for those with developmental anomalies, particularly where self-esteem and confidence are affected, with younger participants (aged 16-24 years) strongly preferring full NHS funding for those under 18 years old (p = 0.007, 95% CI: 0.57-0.09) who dislike smiling in public, especially where self-esteem and confidence are impaired (p = 0.002, 95% CI: 0.16-0.71). Participants with high annual income had the highest preference for the NHS to fund treatment regardless of income (p = 0.02, 95% CI: 0.13-1.47) and placed an onus on addressing developmental anomalies (p = 0.004, 95% CI: 0.22-1.15). In total, 159 (63.6%) of those who would undergo treatment were willing to pay for it, with the majority (88%) open to paying up to £2,000 and only three participants stating the NHS should not contribute towards the cost of orthodontic treatment.

Conclusions Based on this pilot study, key factors influencing the decision to undergo treatment included family income, cost, the aetiology of malocclusion, age and self-esteem/confidence. It was felt that free NHS-based treatment should be given priority where self-esteem and confidence are impaired among young people. Further research to inform the priorities underpinning the provision of dental care and orthodontic treatment within the NHS is required.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Early online date28 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding information This study was funded by the British Orthodontic Society Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to the British Dental Association.


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