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Med Care. 2011 May;49(5):451-60. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318207e9a8.

Probabilistic mapping of descriptive health status responses onto health state utilities using Bayesian networks: an empirical analysis converting SF-12 into EQ-5D utility index in a national US sample.

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College of Pharmacy, Western University of Health Sciences, 309 E. Second Street, Pomona, CA 91766-1854, USA.



As quality-adjusted life years have become the standard metric in health economic evaluations, mapping health-profile or disease-specific measures onto preference-based measures to obtain quality-adjusted life years has become a solution when health utilities are not directly available. However, current mapping methods are limited due to their predictive validity, reliability, and/or other methodological issues.


We employ probability theory together with a graphical model, called a Bayesian network, to convert health-profile measures into preference-based measures and to compare the results to those estimated with current mapping methods.


A sample of 19,678 adults who completed both the 12-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12v2) and EuroQoL 5D (EQ-5D) questionnaires from the 2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey was split into training and validation sets. Bayesian networks were constructed to explore the probabilistic relationships between each EQ-5D domain and 12 items of the SF-12v2. The EQ-5D utility scores were estimated on the basis of the predicted probability of each response level of the 5 EQ-5D domains obtained from the Bayesian inference process using the following methods: Monte Carlo simulation, expected utility, and most-likely probability. Results were then compared with current mapping methods including multinomial logistic regression, ordinary least squares, and censored least absolute deviations.


The Bayesian networks consistently outperformed other mapping models in the overall sample (mean absolute error=0.077, mean square error=0.013, and R overall=0.802), in different age groups, number of chronic conditions, and ranges of the EQ-5D index.


Bayesian networks provide a new robust and natural approach to map health status responses into health utility measures for health economic evaluations.

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