Lives and livelihoods: understanding public preferences and trade-offs for government responses during a pandemic

Public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted on people's physical and mental health, and have also had, sometimes profound, economic consequences. Public health responses must then balance protecting the population and healthcare system with the impact on the economy and personal freedoms. A better understanding of public preferences and how they differ across communities may help policy makers decide which interventions to deploy. We will use a DCE survey to elicit the relative importance of different attributes of public health responses to pandemics, and the trade-offs individuals are willing to make between these attributes. The attributes include the type and the duration of the lockdown, the impact on the health service, the number of infections and excess deaths, the impact on household spending and job losses. We will also test if respondents’ preferences differ based on moral attitudes, demography, socioeconomic circumstances, health status, country of residence, or experience of COVID-19. We aim to collect preference data using an online survey of 4000 individuals from across the four UK countries (1000 per country).

HERU researchers involved in this research project: Mesfin Genie, Luis Loría-Rebolledo, Mandy Ryan, Ruben Sakowsky and Verity Watson

External collaborators: Shantini Paranjothy and Daniel Powell (University of Aberdeen)


Genie, M. G., Loría-Rebolledo, L. E., Paranjothy, S., Powell, D., Ryan, M., Sakowsky, R. A. and Watson, V. (2020) 'Understanding public preferences and trade-offs for government responses during a pandemic: a protocol for a discrete choice experiment in the UK', BMJ Open, 10(11), e043477.