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It's all in the name, or is it? The impact of labelling on health state values

By D. Rowen, J. Brazier, A. Tsuchiya, T. Young and R. Ibbotson


Many descriptions of health used in vignettes and condition-specific measures refer to the medical condition. This paper assesses the impact of referring to the medical condition in the descriptions of health states valued by members of the general population. A sample of 241 members of the UK general population each valued 8 health states using time trade-off. All respondents valued essentially the same health states, but for each respondent the descriptions featured either an irritable bowel syndrome label, a cancer label or no label. Regression techniques were used to estimate the impact of each label and experience of the condition on health state values. We find that the inclusion of a cancer label in health state descriptions affects health state values and that the impact is dependent upon the severity of the state. A condition label can affect health state values, but this is dependent upon the specific condition and severity. It is recommended to avoid condition labels in health state descriptions (where possible) to ensure that values are not affected by prior knowledge or preconception of the condition that may distort the health state being valued

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