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August 18, 2008

Integrating Patient Preferences With Health Utilities: A Variation on Health-Related Quality of Life

Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(8):1037-1041. doi:10.1001/archderm.144.8.1037

In this issue of the Archives, Chen et al1 describe acne-related health utility states among adolescents. The study illustrates the value of health utilities in measuring patient preferences for treatment-related outcomes as a metric of health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Like acne, many dermatologic diseases are chronic conditions, characterized by fluctuations in clinical severity. Treatments for such diseases may produce incremental improvements in lieu of a cure. Because most skin diseases do not wax or wane with clinical tests or laboratory values, determination of efficacy relies on subjective assessments of response by both physicians and patients. Health utility states, or patient preference–based HRQOL, are cogent subjective assessments from the patient perspective.2