Table 1

Example of respondent choice task

Allocating ICU beds during a shortage
Without access to an ICU with oxygen and a medical device called a ventilator that helps someone breath, some patients infected with COVID-19 are almost certain to die. Because of a spike in many severely ill patients with COVID-19, a hospital may face a situation where it has three patients who need a bed in an ICU unit but only one ICU bed is available. This table shows the characteristics of the three patients with respect to age and gender, as well as whether they have Alzheimer’s or a similar mental disability that makes it impossible for the person regardless of their age to take care of themselves.
The last row provides information on how likely it is for the patient to survive if they get access to room in the ICU with oxygen and a ventilator. 50% indicates half of the time the patient who gets access to the ICU will survive and be able to breath normally again and half of the time the patient will end up dying. 60% indicates that 6 out of 10 patients with characteristics similar to this one will end up living if they get a room in the ICU and other 4 will end up dying, while 40% indicates that 4 out of 10 patients similar to this one who get a room in the ICU will end up living and 6 will end up dying.
Patient A Patient B Patient C
Has Alzheimer’s or similar mental disabilityYesNoNo
Chance of survival if gets ICU bed80%40%50%
If only one unused ICU bed is available at the hospital, which patient do you think the emergency room doctor should give it to?
Patient A ____ Patient B _____ Patient C ___________
  • ICU, intensive care unit.