A framework for estimating health state utility values within a discrete choice experiment: Modelling risky choices

Angela Robinson, Anne Spencer, Peter Moffatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background. There has been recent interest in using the discrete choice experiment (DCE) method to derive health state utilities for use in quality-adjusted life year (QALY) calculations, but challenges remain. Objectives. We set out to develop a risk-based DCE approach to derive utility values for health states that allowed 1) utility values to be anchored directly to normal health and death and 2) worse than dead health states to be assessed in the same manner as better than dead states. Furthermore, we set out to estimate alternative models of risky choice within a DCE model. Method. A survey was designed that incorporated a risk-based DCE and a “modified” standard gamble (SG). Health state utility values were elicited for 3 EQ-5D health states assuming “standard” expected utility (EU) preferences. The DCE model was then generalized to allow for rank-dependent expected utility (RDU) preferences, thereby allowing for probability weighting. A convenience sample of 60 students was recruited and data collected in small groups. Results. Under the assumption of “standard” EU preferences, the utility values derived within the DCE corresponded fairly closely to the mean results from the modified SG. Under the assumption of RDU preferences, the utility values estimated are somewhat lower than under the assumption of standard EU, suggesting that the latter may be biased upward. Conclusion. Applying the correct model of risky choice is important whether a modified SG or a risk-based DCE is deployed. It is, however, possible to estimate a probability weighting function within a DCE and estimate “unbiased” utility values directly, which is not possible within a modified SG. We conclude by setting out the relative strengths and weaknesses of the 2 approaches in this context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number3
Early online date27 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • expected utility theory
  • health preference elicitation
  • health-related quality of life
  • theories of utility
  • utility measurement

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