Introduction: Quality-adjusted life years are derived using health state utility weights which adjust for the relative value of living in each health state compared with living in perfect health. Various techniques are used to estimate health state utility weights including time-trade-off and standard gamble. These methods have exhibited limitations in terms of complexity, validity and reliability. A new composite approach using experimental auctions to value health states is introduced in this protocol. Methods and analysis: A pilot study will test the feasibility and validity of using experimental auctions to value health states in monetary terms. A convenient sample (n=150) from a population of university staff and students will be invited to participate in 30 auction sets with a group of 5 people in each set. The 9 health states auctioned in each auction set will come from the commonly used EQ-5D-3L instrument. At most participants purchase 2 health states, and the participant who acquires the 2 'best' health states on average will keep the amount of money they do not spend in acquiring those health states. The value (highest bid and average bid) of each of the 24 health states will be compared across auctions to test for reliability across auction groups and across auctioneers. A test retest will be conducted for 10% of the sample to assess reliability of responses for health states auctions. Feasibility of conducting experimental auctions to value health states will also be examined. The validity of estimated health states values will be compared with published utility estimates from other methods. This pilot study will explore the feasibility, reliability and validity in using experimental auction for valuing health states.
Ethics and dissemination: Ethical clearance was obtained from Griffith University ethics committee. The results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and major international conferences.