Testing the convergent validity of the contingent valuation and travel cost methods in valuing the benefits of health care.
In this study, the convergent validity of the contingent valuation method (CVM) and travel cost method (TCM) is tested by comparing estimates of the willingness to pay (WTP) for improving access to mammographic screening in rural areas of Australia. It is based on a telephone survey of 458 women in 19 towns, in which they were asked about their recent screening behaviour and their WTP to have a mobile screening unit visit their nearest town. After eliminating missing data and other non-usable responses the contingent valuation experiment and travel cost model were based on information from 372 and 319 women, respectively. Estimates of the maximum WTP for the use of mobile screening units were derived using both methods and compared. The highest mean WTP estimated using the TCM was $83.10 (95% C.I. $99.06-$68.53), which is significantly less than the estimate of $148.09 ($131.13-$166.60) using the CVM. This could be due to the CVM estimates also reflecting non-use values such as altruism, or a range of potential biases that are known to affect both methods. Further tests of validity are required in order to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between these two methods of estimating WTP.