Assessing Inequalities In Health & Quality Of Life

Wirral, UK – How should we monitor health disparities across districts? Traditionally, governments measure economic outputs such as gross domestic product (GDP) and health outcomes such as life expectancy. Life expectancy only tells part of the picture; when we adjust life expectancy for health status, the gaps between rich and poor often become even wider.

In the study, “Using a Survey to Estimate Health Expectancy and Quality-Adjusted Life Expectancy to Assess Inequalities in Health and Quality of Life,” published in Value in Health, author Brendan Collins, of the University of Liverpool and Wirral Public health, combined health-related quality of life data from a population questionnaire with life expectancy data to estimate quality adjusted life expectancy across a population.

This study showed that the gap between rich and poor was much greater when quality of life was included as well as life expectancy. The study revealed a 12.7 year gap in quality adjusted life expectancy between rich and poor in Wirral, an area in the North West of England. The potential value of this gap in quality adjusted life years (QALYs) can be valued in economic terms based on society’s willingness to pay for health interventions.

Fiona Johnstone, Wirral’s Director of Policy, Performance & Public Health said, “Combining life expectancy data with quality of life data in this way enables us to understand more about the needs of our population and how individuals in our most deprived areas do not just have shorter life expectancy, but are more likely to experience poor health at every age.”

Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) publishes papers, concepts, and ideas that advance the field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research as well as policy papers to help health care leaders make evidence-based decisions. The journal is published bi-monthly and has over 8,000 subscribers (clinicians, decision makers, and researchers worldwide).

International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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