Deriving distributional weights for QALYs through discrete choice experiments

Emily Lancsar, John Wildman, Cam Donaldson, Mandy Ryan, Rachel M. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the first attempt to use a discrete choice experiment to derive distributional weights for quality adjusted life years (QALYs), based on characteristics (age and severity) of the beneficiaries. A novel approach using the Hicksian compensating variation is applied. Advantages include derivation of weights for QALYs, not just for life or life years saved, and investigation of the impact of the size of the health gain by allowing the gain to be traded against other characteristics. Results suggest one would generally not weight QALYs, except in a small number of specific cases and in those cases the weights are relatively small. Methodological challenges are highlighted as is a future research agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466–478
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • QALY
  • discrete choice experiment
  • health economics


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