Searchers vs surveyors in estimating the monetary value of a QALY: Resolving a nasty dilemma for NICE

Rachel Baker, Susan Chilton, Cam Donaldson, Michael Jones-Lee, Emily Lancsar, Helen Mason, Hugh Metcalf, Mark Pennington, John Wildman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, for many health economics researchers, empirical estimation of the monetary valuation of a quality-adjusted life year (QALY) has become an important endeavour. Different philosophical and practical approaches to this have emerged. On the one hand, there is a view that, with health-care budgets set centrally, decision-making bodies within the system can iterate, from observation of a series of previous decisions, towards the value of a QALY, thus searching for such a value. Alternatively, and more consistent with the approach taken in other public sectors, individual members of the public are surveyed with the aim of directly eliciting a preference-based - also known as a willingness-to-pay-based (WTP-based) - value of a QALY. While the former is based on supply-side factors and the latter on demand, both in fact suffer from informational deficiencies. Sole reliance on either would necessitate an acceptance or accommodation of chronic inefficiencies in health-care resource allocation. On the basis of this observation, this paper makes the case that in order to approach optimal decision making in health-care provision, a framework incorporating and thus, to a degree, reconciling these two approaches is to be preferred.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435 - 447
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Economics, Policy and Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Cite this