Age weights for health services derived from the relative social willingness-to-pay instrument

Jeff Richardson, John McKie, Angelo Iezzi, Aimee Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of a patient's age on the social valuation of health services remains controversial, with empirical results varying in magnitude and implying a different age-value profile. This article employs a new methodology to re-examine these questions. Data were obtained from 2 independent Web-based surveys that administered the Relative Social Willingness to Pay instrument. In the first survey, the age of the patient receiving a life-saving service was varied. Patients were left with either poor mental or physical health. In the second survey, patient age was varied for a service that fully cured the patient's poor mental or physical health. In total, therefore, 4 sets of age weights were obtained: weights for life-extending services with poor physical or mental health outcomes and weights for quality-of-life improvement for patients in poor mental or physical health. Results were consistent. Increasing age was associated in each case with a monotonic decrease in the social valuation of the services. The decrease in value was quantitatively small until age 60 years. By age 80 years, the social value of services had declined by about 50%. The decline commenced at an earlier age in the context of physical health, although the magnitude of the decrement by age 80 years was unrelated to the type of service. With 1 exception, there was little difference in the valuation of services by the age of the survey respondent. Respondents aged >60 years placed a lower, not higher, value on quality-of-life improvement for elderly individuals than other respondents. There was no difference in the valuation of life-extending services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-251
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • cost utility analysis
  • cost-effectiveness analysis
  • decision rules
  • health state preferences
  • utilities
  • valuations

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