The research, called the ‘Extending the QALY’ project, is being led by the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield, with collaborators from the University of Kent, the Office of Health Economics and the EuroQol Research Foundation.
The project is being co-funded by a grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the EuroQol Research Foundation.
When NICE looks at the cost effectiveness of a healthcare intervention such as a new drug or diagnostic, the benefit of the intervention is measured in terms of how many quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) it provides. The ‘quality’ adjustment is based on a measurement of health-related aspects of quality of life.
However, some people feel that the existing measures of health-related quality of life might not capture important benefits of treatments beyond health-related quality of life, such as independence or improved relationships with friends, family and carers.
At the same time, different measures are used in healthcare, social care and public health, making it difficult to compare across these sectors, which is important when thinking about the wider health and social care budget.
The ‘Extending the QALY’ project will explore these issues and look at the importance of other aspects, such as social and emotional wellbeing, as well as physical and mental health.
Nick Crabb (Programme Director, Scientific Affairs) at NICE said: “NICE relies on an accurate assessment of quality of life when making decisions about interventions across health and social care. Research is needed to develop new tools to assess quality of life that are equally relevant across these sectors and capture the key things – not just health – that are important to people. We look forward to working with our partners on this important project which aims to develop a new broad generic measure of quality of life that is relevant across health and social care. Depending on the research results, NICE will consider whether and how to include any new quality of life measure in its work.”
The project began in May 2017 and will last two and a half years. During this time the team will conduct interviews and surveys with patients, social care users, carers and the general public to explore what aspects of quality of life are important and identify the best questions to ask to measure quality of life.