Time to disable DALYs? On the use of disability-adjusted life-years in health policy

Eur J Health Econ. 2003 Sep;4(3):195-202. doi: 10.1007/s10198-003-0169-2. Epub 2003 Jul 1.


The concept of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) has rapidly gained in popularity in health policy, and considerable research resources are being allocated to this field. Proponents of DALYs suggest that the measure can be used both as a "gross domestic product of health" and to help in setting priorities in health policy. This study investigates the usefulness of DALYs and contends that DALYs, as the measure is currently understood, cannot be used for either of these two purposes. The DALYs procedure does not produce a useful measure of population health, and its use in priority setting is ethically questionable.