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Few Willing to Pay to Reduce Diabetes Risk

Most people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes are willing to participate in a risk-reduction program, but few are willing to pay full price to do so. Study co-author Dr. Thomas J. Hoerger, of RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, says that, “Our willingness-to-pay estimates suggest that individuals will be willing to participate in interventions to delay or prevent diabetes if they are partially subsidized, but most will be unwilling to pay the full cost of currently available programs.”

These findings are based on an Internet survey of 582 individuals, ages 45 years or older. Two thirds were obese and all were at high risk of type 2 diabetes. The hypothetical programs described to the study participants included seven different attributes, namely, diet, exercise, counseling, medication, weight loss goals, risk reduction and program costs.

In general, survey respondents preferred programs that included flexible diets, exercise requirements, counseling and medication. The most preferred programs included those with a weight-loss goal of 40 lbs, Hoerger and his colleagues report in the journal Diabetes Care.

The subjects were willing to pay about $63 per month over a three-year period to participate in a program containing the features they liked best, but would be willing to pay only about $42 over three years for an intervention similar to the existing Diabetes Prevention Program, which primarily involves diet and exercise.

The study participants also tended to underestimate their own risk of developing diabetes, with less than one third (27 percent) correctly perceiving themselves to be at high risk, study findings indicate.

Those who believed they were at high risk for diabetes were willing to spend more money on a risk-reduction program than those who perceived themselves to be at low risk, the researchers note.

As for the survey respondents’ overall reluctance to pay full price, however, Hoerger noted, “it’s possible that these individuals would have been willing to pay more if they had a more realistic assessment of their risk.”

Diabetes Care, June 2006.