Evaluating interventions in health: a reconciliatory approach

Bioethics. 2012 Nov;26(9):455-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01888.x. Epub 2011 Apr 29.


Health-related Quality of Life measures have recently been attacked from two directions, both of which criticize the preference-based method of evaluating health states they typically incorporate. One attack, based on work by Daniel Kahneman and others, argues that 'experience' is a better basis for evaluation. The other, inspired by Amartya Sen, argues that 'capability' should be the guiding concept. In addition, opinion differs as to whether health evaluation measures are best derived from consultations with the general public, with patients, or with health professionals. And there is disagreement about whether these opinions should be solicited individually and aggregated, or derived instead from a process of collective deliberation. These distinctions yield a wide variety of possible approaches, with potentially differing policy implications. We consider some areas of disagreement between some of these approaches. We show that many of the perspectives seem to capture something important, such that it may be a mistake to reject any of them. Instead we suggest that some of the existing 'instruments' designed to measure HR QoLs may in fact successfully already combine these attributes, and with further refinement such instruments may be able to provide a reasonable reconciliation between the perspectives.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Patient Preference*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years