Send to

Choose Destination
J Clin Epidemiol. 2007 Jun;60(6):616-24. Epub 2006 Dec 22.

Not all "quality-adjusted life years" are equal.

Author information

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



There is evidence that utility elicitation methods used in the calculation of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) yield different results. It is not clear how these differences impact economic evaluations.


Using a mathematical model incorporating data on efficacy, costs, and utility values, we simulated the experiences of 100,000 hypothetical rheumatoid arthritis patients over 10 years (50,000 exposed to infliximab plus methotrexate [MTX] and 50,000 exposed to MTX alone). QALYs, were derived from the Health Utilities Index 2 and 3 (HUI2 and HUI3), the Short Form 6-D (SF-6D), and the Euroqol 5-D (EQ-5D). Incremental cost-utility ratios were determined using each instrument to calculate QALYs and the results were compared using cost-effectiveness acceptability curves.


Using the different utility measurement methods, the mean difference in QALYs between the infliximab plus MTX and MTX groups ranged from a high of 1.95 QALYs (95% CI=1.93-1.97) using the HUI3 to 0.89 QALYs (95% CI=0.88-0.91) using the SF-6D. Adopting the commonly cited value of society's willingness to pay for a QALY of $50,000, 91% of the simulations favored the cost utility of infliximab plus MTX when using the HUI3 to calculate QALYs. However, when using the EQ-5D, HUI2, or the SF-6D utility values to calculate QALYS, the proportion of simulations that favored the cost utility of infliximab were 63%, 45%, and 12%, respectively.


Depending on the method for determining utility values used in the calculation of QALYs, very different incremental cost-utility ratios are generated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center