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Would You Rather Die Sooner Than Take a Daily Pill?

Would You Rather Die Sooner Than Take a Daily Pill The Atlantic

"We think that part of the opposition is the stigma of being sick or needing to be treated."


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Wow, people really don't want to take a pill.

In a study published earlier this week in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association, researchers from the University of North Carolina and the University of California, San Francisco, surveyed 1,000 people on what they would be willing to give up to avoid taking a daily pill—one without any cost or side effects—to protect heart health.

Here’s what people were willing to trade:

  • More than 20 percent said they would pay $1,000 or more; around 3 percent said they’d pay up to $25,000.
  • Around 38 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to gamble some risk of immediate death; around 29 percent of the people surveyed said they’d accept a small (lower than 1 percent) risk, while 9 percent of them said they’d accept a one-in-10 chance of immediate death.
  • When the question changed from risk of death to certain death, around 30 percent said they would trade at least a week off their lives, and 8 percent were willing to give up a full two years.

The researchers aren’t sure why the survey respondents were so averse to the idea of taking a pill each day, but they have some educated guesses. Beyond the simple hassle of remembering a daily chore, “We think that part of the opposition is the stigma of ‘being sick’ or needing to be treated,” Robert Hutchins, a physician at UCSF and the study’s lead author, said in an email.

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