Largely ignored: the impact of the threshold value for a QALY on the importance of a transferability factor

Eur J Health Econ. 2011 Oct;12(5):397-404. doi: 10.1007/s10198-010-0253-3. Epub 2010 May 30.


Recently, several checklists systematically assessed factors that affect the transferability of cost-effectiveness (CE) studies between jurisdictions. The role of the threshold value for a QALY has been given little consideration in these checklists, even though the importance of a factor as a cause of between country differences in CE depends on this threshold. In this paper, we study the impact of the willingness-to-pay (WTP) per QALY on the importance of transferability factors in the case of smoking cessation support (SCS). We investigated, for several values of the WTP, how differences between six countries affect the incremental net monetary benefit (INMB) of SCS. The investigated factors were demography, smoking prevalence, mortality, epidemiology and costs of smoking-related diseases, resource use and unit costs of SCS, utility weights and discount rates. We found that when the WTP decreased, factors that mainly affect health outcomes became less important and factors that mainly effect costs became more important. With a WTP below <euro>1,000, the factors most responsible for between country differences in INMB were resource use and unit costs of SCS and the costs of smoking-related diseases. Utility values had little impact. At a threshold above <euro>10,000, between country differences were primarily due to different discount rates, utility weights and epidemiology of smoking-related diseases. Costs of smoking-related diseases had little impact. At all thresholds, demography had little impact. We concluded that, when judging the transferability of a CE study, we should consider the between country differences in WTP threshold values.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Checklist
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Financing, Personal*
  • Humans
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation*