Original Article

International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 367-376

First online:

Measuring and valuing quality of life for public health research: application of the ICECAP-O capability index in the Australian general population

  • L. CouznerAffiliated withDepartment of Rehabilitation and Aged Care, Repatriation General Hospital Email author 
  • , J. RatcliffeAffiliated withFlinders Centre for Clinical Change and Health Care Research, Flinders University
  • , L. LesterAffiliated withFlinders Business School, Flinders University
  • , T. FlynnAffiliated withCentre for the Study of Choice (CenSoC), University of Technology
  • , M. CrottyAffiliated withDepartment of Rehabilitation and Aged Care, Repatriation General Hospital

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To assess the applicability of the newly developed ICECAP-O capability index in the measurement and valuation of quality of life in a large community based sample of the Australian general population. With origins in Sen’s capability theory, the ICECAP-O may more fully encapsulate the multi-dimensional outcomes of public health policies and interventions than traditional health economic constructs.


2,937 Australian residents participated in face-to-face interviews. The relationships between ICECAP-O scores according to age groups (<65 or >65 years) and socio-economic status were investigated using descriptive statistics and multivariable linear regression models.


Lower income levels and being unemployed or physically unable to work were negatively associated with capability for both age groups. Capability was strongly and positively associated with marriage and cohabitation in the younger age group, whilst being Australian-born was a positive indicator for the older group.


The results provide insights into the assessment of capability in the Australian general population. The ICECAP-O shows promise for application in the measurement and valuation of quality of life in general population surveys, and incorporation into economic evaluations of public health interventions.


Quality of life Capability Health economics Age groups Public health