Regression estimators for generic health-related quality of life and quality-adjusted life years

Med Decis Making. Jan-Feb 2012;32(1):56-69. doi: 10.1177/0272989X11416988. Epub 2011 Oct 18.


Purpose: To develop regression models for outcomes with truncated supports, such as health-related quality of life (HRQoL) data, and account for features typical of such data such as a skewed distribution, spikes at 1 or 0, and heteroskedasticity.

Methods: Regression estimators based on features of the Beta distribution. First, both a single equation and a 2-part model are presented, along with estimation algorithms based on maximum-likelihood, quasi-likelihood, and Bayesian Markov-chain Monte Carlo methods. A novel Bayesian quasi-likelihood estimator is proposed. Second, a simulation exercise is presented to assess the performance of the proposed estimators against ordinary least squares (OLS) regression for a variety of HRQoL distributions that are encountered in practice. Finally, the performance of the proposed estimators is assessed by using them to quantify the treatment effect on QALYs in the EVALUATE hysterectomy trial. Overall model fit is studied using several goodness-of-fit tests such as Pearson's correlation test, link and reset tests, and a modified Hosmer-Lemeshow test.

Results: The simulation results indicate that the proposed methods are more robust in estimating covariate effects than OLS, especially when the effects are large or the HRQoL distribution has a large spike at 1. Quasi-likelihood techniques are more robust than maximum likelihood estimators. When applied to the EVALUATE trial, all but the maximum likelihood estimators produce unbiased estimates of the treatment effect.

Conclusion: One and 2-part Beta regression models provide flexible approaches to regress the outcomes with truncated supports, such as HRQoL, on covariates, after accounting for many idiosyncratic features of the outcomes distribution. This work will provide applied researchers with a practical set of tools to model outcomes in cost-effectiveness analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years*
  • Regression Analysis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires