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Utility Functions for Life Years and Health Status


  • Joseph S. Pliskin

    (Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel)

  • Donald S. Shepard

    (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts)

  • Milton C. Weinstein

    (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts)


Multiattribute utility theory is used to suggest a form for a utility function over life years and health status. The analysis is motivated by consideration of two diseases—coronary artery disease and chronic kidney disease—in which the choice of treatment may depend on the patient's tradeoff between these attributes. Certain plausible independence properties lead to a quasi-additive utility function for life years and health status. Particular attention is given to utility functions for life years exhibiting constant proportional risk posture. An empirical assessment shows that stated preferences appear consistent with this functional form. The derived utility functions have been applied to the treatment decision of whether to prescribe coronary artery bypass graft surgery in patients with coronary artery disease.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph S. Pliskin & Donald S. Shepard & Milton C. Weinstein, 1980. "Utility Functions for Life Years and Health Status," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 28(1), pages 206-224, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:oropre:v:28:y:1980:i:1:p:206-224

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