Health or Happiness? A Note on Trading Off Health and Happiness in Rationing Decisions

Jul 1, 2016, 00:00 AM
Section Title : Preference-Based Assessment
Section Order : 8
First Page : 552


Economic evaluations typically value the effects of an intervention in terms of quality-adjusted life-years, which combine length and health-related quality of life. It has been suggested that economic evaluations should incorporate broader outcomes than health-related quality of life. Broader well-being, for instance measured as happiness, could be a better measure of the overall welfare effects in patients because of treatment. An underexplored question is whether and how people trade off information on health and broader outcomes from treatment in rationing decisions.


This article presents the results of a first experiment aimed at exploring such trade-offs between health and happiness.


We used a Web-based questionnaire in a representative sample of the public from the Netherlands (N = 1015). People made choices between two groups of patients differing in terms of their health and happiness levels before treatment and gains from treatment.


The results showed that about half the respondents were willing to discriminate between patient groups on the basis of their health and happiness levels before and after treatment. In the trader group, health gains were considered somewhat more important than happiness gains.


Our findings suggest that both health and happiness levels of patients may play a role in priority setting.
HEOR Topics :
  • Methodological & Statistical Research
  • Patient-Centered Research
  • Patient-reported Outcomes & Quality of Life Outcomes
  • Preference Methods
Tags :
  • happiness
  • health
  • preferences
  • rationing decisions
Regions :
  • Africa
  • Eastern and Central Europe
  • Middle East
  • Western Europe