A New Valuation Method: Directly Eliciting Personal Utility Functions

Methods commonly used for eliciting the preference data upon which value sets are based (e.g. time trade-off, standard gamble, discrete choice experiment) have in common an aim to ‘uncover’ the preferences of survey respondents by asking them to evaluate a sub-set of health states. The responses are then used to infer their preferences over all possible dimensions and levels of a descriptive system. An alternative approach is to ask respondents directly about the relative importance to them of the dimensions, levels and interactions between them.

A new OHE Research Paper describes a new stated preference approach for directly eliciting personal utility functions (PUFs) from members of the general public. The approach focuses on helping respondents to reflect and deliberate on their preferences. A computer-based tool was developed and used to administer the questions via face-to-face interviews. The Research Paper reports the methods and findings of piloting work to test the feasibility and acceptability of the PUF approach for valuing a simplified version of the EQ-5D-5L, a measure of patient-reported outcomes.

The PUF approach appears to be feasible. The authors conclude that it has the potential to: (a) yield meaningful, well-informed preference data from respondents; and (b) provide individual preference data that can be aggregated to yield a social value set for the EQ-5D. The paper concludes by describing the research and testing needed to further refine some elements of the approach.

The PUF approach described in the paper can be used either as a standalone valuation method or as a complement to existing stated preference techniques. For example, the approach to identifying the position of ‘dead’ = 0 within a descriptive system is currently being used in a methodological study exploring various ways of anchoring discrete choice experiment data obtained for the EQ-5D-Y.

The study was undertaken by Professor Nancy Devlin and Koonal Shah, in collaboration with Brendan Mulhern of the University of Technology Sydney, Krystallia Pantiri of Pharmerit, and Professor Ben van Hout of Pharmerit and the University of Sheffield. Preliminary findings were presented at the 2016 PROMs conference.

Access the OHE Research Paper here.

For more information about OHE’s research on this topic, contact Koonal Shah.

Related research:

Devlin, N., Shah, K., and Buckingham, K., 2017. What is the normative basis for selecting the measure of ‘average’ preferences for use in social choices? OHE Research Paper. London: Office of Health Economics.

Pantiri, K., Shah, K., Devlin, N., Mulhern, B. and van Hout, B., 2016. Directly Eliciting personal utility functions from a convenience sample of 30 health outcomes professionals: A pilot study. Value in Health, 19(7), A473.

Posted in EQ-5D and PROMs, Research | Tagged Research Papers