Using instrument-defined health state transitions to estimate minimally important differences for four preference-based health-related quality of life instruments

Med Care. 2010 Apr;48(4):365-71. doi: 10.1097/mlr.0b013e3181c162a2.


Objective: To estimate minimally important differences (MIDs) for the EQ-5D, Health Utilities Index Mark II (HUI2), HUI3, and SF-6D health index scores using health-state transitions defined by each instrument's multiattribute health classification (MAHC) system.

Methods: We assume that changes in preference scores associated with the smallest health transitions defined by an MAHC system are minimally important. Any transitions between 2 health states defined by an MAHC system which differ in only one health dimension or attribute and by only one functional level are considered "smallest health transitions." Thus, each such health transition provides 1 MID estimate. The MID for each of the 4 instruments was estimated using all the hypothetical smallest health transitions defined by its MAHC system.

Results: Based on our definitions, the total number of smallest health transitions was 405 for the EQ-5D, 127,600 for the HUI2, 6,382,800 for the HUI3, and 86,700 for the SF-6D. The mean (standard deviation) MID estimate was 0.040 (0.026) for the EQ-5D (US algorithm), 0.082 (0.032) for the EQ-5D (UK algorithm), 0.045 (0.039) for the HUI2, 0.032 (0.027) for the HUI3, and 0.027 (0.028) for the SF-6D. The effect sizes of these MID estimates ranged from 0.11 to 0.37. These MID estimates are quite comparable to published values estimated from empirical data using anchor-based methods.

Conclusions: It is possible to use health transitions defined by the MAHC system to estimate the MIDs for preference-based health index scores. This study provides new information regarding MID estimates for the 4 health indices examined.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Patient Preference*
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United Kingdom
  • United States