The Use of QALY and Non-QALY Measures of Health-Related Quality of Life: Assessing the State of the Art
There are now a large number of instruments available for assessing health-related quality of life, many of which are used within economic evaluations. When considering the use of quality-of-life instruments, meaningful questions need to be asked to determine whether an instrument has been used judiciously. Such questions should consider whether the instrument is valid and suitable for the particular study question, whether the instrument is compatible with the economic evaluation framework used, and subsequently whether the conclusions presented in the study are legitimate. In order to illustrate the value of these questions we have applied them to a number of economic evaluations. The studies used were identified via a systematic review of the health economics literature. In our assessment of a sample of published material, we found that reporting is frequently unhelpful and that the inappropriate use of instruments and techniques casts doubt on the conclusions of economic evaluations. Furthermore, our systematic review of the health economics literature has shown that the general format of reported economic evaluations falls short of the commonly accepted ideal. We examined the health economics literature for 1995 and only identified a handful of studies which satisfied the economic evaluation criteria as accepted by most economists. It is hoped that raising awareness of these issues will urge evaluators, referees and publishers not to lose sight of the needs of the decision-maker when considering the detail which should be present in a reported evaluation.
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