Reconceptualising the external validity of discrete choice experiments

Emily Jane Lancsar, Joffre Swait

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


External validity is a crucial but under-researched topic when considering using discrete choice experiment (DCE) results to inform decision making in clinical, commercial or policy contexts. We present the theory and tests traditionally used to explore external validity that focus on a comparison of final outcomes and review how this traditional definition has been empirically tested in health economics and other sectors (such as transport, environment and marketing) in which DCE methods are applied. While an important component, we argue that the investigation of external validity should be much broader than a comparison of final outcomes. In doing so, we introduce a new and more comprehensive conceptualisation of external validity, closely linked to process validity, that moves us from the simple characterisation of a model as being or not being externally valid on the basis of predictive performance, to the concept that external validity should be an objective pursued from the initial conceptualisation and design of any DCE. We discuss how such a broader definition of external validity can be fruitfully used and suggest innovative ways in which it can be explored in practice
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951 - 965
Number of pages15
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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