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23-07-2020 | Uitgave 11/2020

Quality of Life Research 11/2020

3125 steps to perfect health: a nonparametric approach to developing the EQ-5D-5L value set

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 11/2020
Stephanie Thomas, Jeffrey A. Johnson, Feng Xie
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The online version of this article (doi:https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-020-02589-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.

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The EQ-5D-5L is a commonly used instrument for assessing the utility of different health states. Health state utility values are a key component of health technology evaluations. Such evaluations are used to support evidence-based decisions surrounding health resource allocations and therefore rely on the accuracy of the valuation set used. This paper takes an alternative approach to developing an EQ-5D-5L value set for Canada. The aim is to introduce a robust method that is likely to generate a value set with improved accuracy and that can be used to generate value sets for other populations without the need for modification.


The common approach to developing a valuation set for preference-based instruments is to ask a population sample to value a subset of the health states using an established preference elicitation technique. The relationship between the elicited health states and the preferences is used to inform a model to predict the utility values for the unsampled health states described by the instrument. The true relationship is unknown and the functional forms chosen in the modelling process vary across valuation studies. We use nonparametric local constant regression to estimate an EQ-5D-5L value set for Canada and propose this method as an alternative for value set development because it does not require the specification of a functional form at the outset.


Compared to the existing valuation model for Canada, the nonparametric method improves in-sample fit, reducing the average squared prediction error by 94.46% and the mean absolute error by 79.37%. In four of five sets of out-of-sample studies, this new approach performs significantly better than 9 comparison models. Despite lacking any restriction on the functional form of the resulting valuations, the valuation set generated by this new approach is logically consistent. 100% of the pairs of health states in which one state is dominant have health state values which respect this ordering. The value set also appears to differ substantially from the comparators.


Overall, the results suggest that nonparametric regression is a promising tool for the estimation of EQ-5D-5L valuation sets and may be a good option in a standardised methodology for value set development.

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