A note on the relationship between age and health-related quality of life assessment

Abstract

Purpose
To extend existing analyses of whether and how the age of respondents is related to their time trade-off (TTO) valuations of hypothetical EQ-5D-3L health states, and to contribute to the existing debate about the rationale and implications for using age-specific utilities in health technology assessment (HTA).

Methods
We use data from the MVH UK valuation study. For each profile, the mean TTO value—adjusted by sex, education, self-reported health and personal experience of serious illness—is pairwise compared across the different age groups. A Bonferroni correction is applied to the multiple testing of significant differences between means. Smile plots illustrate the results. A debate regarding whether there is a case for using age-specific utilities in HTAs complements the analysis.

Results
Results show that the oldest respondents value health profiles lower than younger age groups, particularly for profiles describing problems in the mobility dimension.

Conclusion
The findings raise the possibility of using age-specific value sets in HTAs, since a technology may not be cost-effective on average but cost-effective for a sub-group whose preferences are more closely aligned to the benefits offered by the technology.
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