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Med Decis Making. 1998 Oct-Dec;18(4):391-9.

Patients' utilities for cancer treatments: a study of the chained procedure for the standard gamble and time tradeoff.

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  • 1Department of Medical Decision Making, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.



Temporary health states cannot be measured in the traditional way by means of techniques such as the time tradeoff (TTO) and the standard gamble (SG), where health states are chronic and are followed by death. Chained methods have been developed to solve this problem. This study assesses the feasibility of a chained TTO and a chained SG, and the consistency and concordance between the two methods.


Seventy female early-stage breast cancer patients were interviewed. In using both chained methods, the temporary health state to be evaluated was weighed indirectly with the aid of a temporary anchor health state. The patients were asked to evaluate their actual health states, a hypothetical radiotherapy scenario, and a hypothetical chemotherapy scenario.


Sixty-eight patients completed the interview. The use of the anchor health state yielded some problems. A significant difference between the means of the TTO and the SG was found for the anchor health state only. For the other health states, the results were remarkably close, because the design avoided some of the bias effects in traditional measurements.


The feasibility and the consistency of the chained procedure were satisfactory for both methods. The problems regarding the anchor health state can be solved by adapting the methods and by the use of a carefully chosen anchor health state. The chained method avoids biases present in the conventional method, and thereby the TTO and the SG may be reconciled. Moreover, there are several psychological advantages to the method, which makes it useful for diseases with uncertain prognoses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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