Evaluating whether sight is the most valued sense

Enoch, Jamie, McDonald, Leanne ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8769-3214, Jones, Lee, Jones, Peter R and Crabb, David P (2019) Evaluating whether sight is the most valued sense. JAMA Ophthalmology, 137 (11). pp. 1317-1320. ISSN 2168-6165

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Importance: Sight is often considered to be the sense most valued by the general public, but there is limited empirical data to support this. This study provides empirical evidence for frequent assertions made by practitioners, researchers and funding agencies, that sight is the most valued sense.
Objective: To determine which senses are rated most valuable by the general public, and to quantify attitudes towards sight and hearing loss in particular.
Design: A cross-sectional web-based survey, conducted through a market research platform (FlexMR), capturing a heterogeneous sample of UK adults.
Setting: Online.
Participants: 250 UK adults (aged 22-80 years, 56.4% female) were recruited in March 2016.
Main Outcome(s) and Measure(s): Participants were first asked to rank the five classical senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) plus three other senses (balance, temperature, pain), in order of most valuable (8) to least valuable (1). Next, the fear of losing sight and hearing was investigated using a Time Trade-Off exercise. Participants chose between 10 years without sight/hearing, versus varying amounts of perfect health (from 10 to 0 years).
Results: 88% of participants ranked sight as their most valuable sense (mean rating = 7.8; 95% CI 7.6-7.9). Hearing was ranked second (mean rating = 6.2; 95% CI 6.1-6.4), and balance third (mean rating = 4.9; 95% CI 4.7-5.1). All three were ranked above the classical senses of touch, taste and smell (Wilcoxon signed-rank tests; all Ps < 0.05).
The Time Trade-Off exercise indicated that, on average, participants preferred 4.6 years (95% CI 4.2-5.0) of perfect health over 10 years without sight, and 6.8 years (95% CI 6.5-7.2) of perfect health over 10 years without hearing (mean difference between sight and hearing = 2.2 years; P < 0.001).
Conclusions and Relevance: Among a cross-sectional survey of UK adults from the general public, sight was the most valued sense, followed by hearing. These results suggest people would, on average, choose 4.6 years of perfect health over 10 years of life with complete sight loss, although how this generalizes to other parts of the world is unknown.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.3537
Keywords: sight
Subjects: Medicine and health > Health promotion and public health
Depositing User: Leanne McDonald
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2019 15:00
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:12
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/6567


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