In artisanal small-scale gold mining, mercury is used for gold-extraction, putting miners and nearby residents at risk of chronic metallic mercury vapor intoxication (CMMVI). Burden of disease (BoD) analyses allow the estimation of the public health relevance of CMMVI, but until now there have been no specific CMMVI disability weights (DWs). The objective is to derive DWs for moderate and severe CMMVI. Disease-specific and generic health state descriptions of 18 diseases were used in a pairwise comparison survey. Mercury and BoD experts were invited to participate in an online survey. Data were analyzed using probit regression. Local regression was used to make the DWs comparable to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. Alternative survey (visual analogue scale) and data analyses approaches (linear interpolation) were evaluated in scenario analyses. A total of 105 participants completed the questionnaire. DWs for moderate and severe CMMVI were 0.368 (0.261-0.484) and 0.588 (0.193-0.907), respectively. Scenario analyses resulted in higher mean values. The results are limited by the sample size, group of interviewees, questionnaire extent, and lack of generally accepted health state descriptions. DWs were derived to improve the data basis of mercury-related BoD estimates, providing useful information for policy-making. Integration of the results into the GBD DWs enhances comparability.
Keywords: artisanal small-scale gold mining; burden of disease; chronic metallic mercury vapor intoxication; disability weights; mercury; pairwise comparison; visual analogue scale.