Prolongation of disease-free life: When is the benefit sufficient to warrant the effort of taking a preventive medicine?

Jesper B Nielsen, Ivar S Kristiansen, Subash Thapa

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The prolongation of disease-free life (PODL) required by people to be willing to accept an offer of a preventive treatment is unknown. Quantifying the required benefits could guide information and discussions about preventive treatment. In this study, we investigated how large the benefit in prolongation of a disease-free life (PODL) should be for individuals aged 50-80 years to accept a preventive treatment offer. We used a cross-sectional survey design based on a representative sample of 6847 Danish citizens aged 50-80 years. Data were collected in 2019 through a web-based standardized questionnaire administered by Statistics Denmark, and socio-demographic data were added from a national registry. We analyzed the data with chi-square tests and stepwise multinomial logistic regression. The results indicate that the required minimum benefit from the preventive treatment varied widely between individuals (1-week PODL = 14.8%, ≥4 years PODL = 39.2%), and that the majority of individuals (51.1%) required a PODL of ≥2 years. The multivariable analysis indicate that education and income were independently and negatively associated with requested minimum benefit, while age and smoking were independently and positively associated with requested minimum benefit to accept the preventive treatment. Most individuals aged 50-80 years required larger health benefits than most preventive medications on average can offer. The data support the need for educating patients and health care professionals on how to use average benefits when discussing treatment benefits, especially for primary prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106867
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Benefit perception
  • Non-communicable disease
  • Preventive treatment
  • Primary prevention
  • Prolongation of disease-free life
  • Risk communication
  • Secondary prevention
  • Treatment benefit


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