Purpose Health state valuations, used to evaluate the effectiveness of healthcare interventions, can be obtained either by the patients or by the general population. The general population seems to value somatic conditions more negatively than patients, but little is known about valuations of psychological conditions. This study examined whether individuals with and without depression differ in their valuations of depression and whether perceptions regarding depression (empathy, perceived susceptibility, stigma, illness perceptions) and individual characteristics (mastery, self-compassion, dysfunctional attitudes) bias valuations of either individuals with or without depression.
Methods In an online study, a general population sample used a time-trade-off task to value 30 vignettes describing depression states (four per participant) and completed questionnaires on perceptions regarding depression and individual characteristics. Participants were assigned to depression groups (with or without depression), based on the PHQ-9. A generalized linear mixed model was used to assess discrepancies in valuations and identify their determinants.
Results The sample (N = 1268) was representative of the Dutch population on age, gender, education and residence. We found that for mild depression states, individuals with depression (N = 200) valued depression more negatively than individuals without depression (N = 1068) (p = .007). Variables related to perceptions of depression and individual characteristics were not found to affect valuations of either individuals with or individuals without depression.
Conclusion Since the general population values depression less negatively, using their perspective might result in less effectiveness for interventions for mild depression. Perceptions of depression or to individual characteristics did not seem to differentially affect valuations made by either individuals with or without depression.