Precision of Health-Related Quality-of-Life Data Compared with Other Clinical Measures

Published in: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, v. 82, no. 10, Oct. 2007, p. 1244-1254

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Elizabeth A. Hahn, David Cella, Olivier Chassany, Diane L. Fairclough, Gilbert Y. Wong, Ron D. Hays

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.mayoclinicproceedings.com

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

To many clinicians, the assessment of health-related quality of life (HRQL) seems more art than science. This belief is due in part to the lack of formal training available to clinicians regarding HRQL measurement and interpretation. When HRQL is used systematically, it has been shown to improve patient-physician communication, clinical decision making, and satisfaction with care. Nevertheless, clinicians rarely use formal HRQL data in their practices. One major reason is unfamiliarity with the interpretation and potential utility of the data. This unfamiliarity causes a lack of appreciation for the reliability of data generated by formal HRQL assessment and a tendency to regard HRQL data as having insufficient precision for individual use. This article discusses HRQL in the larger context of health indicators and health outcome measurement and is targeted to the practicing clinician who has not had the opportunity to understand and use HRQL data. The concept and measurement of reliability are explained and applied to HRQL and common clinical measures simultaneously, and these results are compared with one another. By offering a juxtaposition of common medical measurements and their associated error with HRQL measurement error, the authors note that HRQL instruments are comparable with commonly used clinical data. They further discuss the necessary requirements for clinicians to adopt formal, routine HRQL assessment into their practices.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.