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JAMA Guide to Statistics and Methods
February 24, 2020

Explaining Health State Utility Assessment

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA. 2020;323(11):1085-1086. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.0656

Health state utilities are used to provide quantitative measures of how strongly a person values a certain health state.1 Distinct from other patient-reported outcome measures, which may not be based on preference, utilities estimate a person’s preference for an outcome, such as sexual dysfunction, which may be very different from another person’s.2 Utilities are measured on a scale of 0 to 1, in which 0 represents a health state equivalent to death and 1 represents a health state of perfect health. In a recent issue of JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, Faris et al3 used multiple direct methods, including the visual analog scale, time trade-off, and standard gamble, to assess respondents’ preferences for 5 health states related to facial palsy and its treatment using facial reanimation surgery.