Using health state utility values in models exploring the cost-effectiveness of health technologies

Value Health. 2012 Sep-Oct;15(6):971-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2012.05.003. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Background: To improve comparability of economic data used in decision making, some agencies recommend that a particular instrument should be used to measure health state utility values (HSUVs) used in decision-analytic models. The methods used to incorporate HSUVs in models, however, are often methodologically poor and lack consistency. Inconsistencies in the methodologies used will produce discrepancies in results, undermining policy decisions informed by cost per quality-adjusted life-years.

Objective: To provide an overview of the current evidence base relating to populating decision-analytic models with HSUVs.

Findings: Research exploring suitable methods to accurately reflect the baseline or counterfactual HSUVs in decision-analytic models is limited, and while one study suggested that general population data may be appropriate, guidance in this area is poor. Literature describing the appropriateness of different methods used to estimate HSUVs for combined conditions is growing, but there is currently no consensus on the most appropriate methodology. While exploratory analyses suggest that a statistical regression model might improve accuracy in predicted values, the models require validation and testing in external data sets. Until additional research has been conducted in this area, the current evidence suggests that the multiplicative method is the most appropriate technique. Uncertainty in the HSUVs used in decision-analytic models is rarely fully characterized in decision-analytic models and is generally poorly reported.

Conclusions: A substantial volume of research is required before definitive detailed evidence-based practical advice can be provided. As the methodologies used can make a substantial difference to the results generated from decision-analytic models, the differences and lack of clarity and guidance will continue to lead to inconsistencies in policy decision making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Technology / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic*
  • Policy Making
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years