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An Introduction to Utility Measurement in Health Care

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Beryl M. Ferguson
British Columbia Transplant Society, Vancouver British Columbia, Canada
Paul A. Keown
British Columbia Transplant Society, Vancouver British Columbia, Canada Departments of Medicine and Pathology, Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver British Columbia, Canada


Key decisions regarding the introduction and optimal use of health technologies often are made on an ad hoc basis. Quantitative information on effectiveness, if incorporated into the decision-making process, would establish a reasoned and defensible basis for the introduction and optimal use of therapeutic technologies. Utility measures provide a single summary score of effectiveness which, when combined with cost information, permits the calculation of cost-utility ratios for alternative technologies. A number of techniques have been developed to elicit utilities, including standard gamble, time trade-off, rating scales, the Quality of Well-Being Scale, and the Health Utility Index. No single method has been accepted yet as the gold standard. Selection therefore must be guided by the specific objectives of the assessment.

Statistics for Hospital Epidemiology
Copyright © The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America 1995

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