The new myth: the social value of the QALY

Werner Brouwer, Job van Exel, Rachel M. Baker, Cam Donaldson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Throughout history there have always been people who are susceptible to myths and have tried to find the unfindable, whether it be the Holy Grail providing eternal life for its finder, the alchemic formula turning lead into gold, Bigfoot or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. These myths come in different forms; some are clearly placed in a religious or metaphysical context (e.g. the Holy Grail), while others are marketed with an earthly and scientific aura (e.g. the hairs of Bigfoot). At present, a new myth is seeking its way into the world. It has sought a particularly receptive bunch of people to nestle in, called health economists. We will call them 'Believers'. The Believers form a relatively friendly tribe, although some theoretical quarrels between tribe members have been reported. Their sole goal in life is to help societies in their struggle with the optimal allocation of resources in the healthcare sector.1 To that end, the Believers have designed a friendly instrument that they normally refer to as 'Economic Evaluation'. The ritual of the Economic Evaluation involves assessing the incremental costs and health gains of one healthcare intervention compared with another

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • QALY
  • social value
  • health economics
  • health economists


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