Quality of Life Research

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 645–653

The Effect of Age, Race and Gender on Preference Scores for Hypothetical Health States


    • Institute for Technology AssessmentMassachusetts General Hospital
    • Harvard Medical School
  • Elkan Halpern
    • Institute for Technology AssessmentMassachusetts General Hospital
  • Nomia Divi
    • Institute for Technology AssessmentMassachusetts General Hospital
  • Lisa A. Prosser
    • Department of Ambulatory Care and PreventionHarvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • Sally S. Araki
    • Stanford University
  • Jane C. Weeks
    • Department of Medical OncologyDana-Farber Cancer Institute

DOI: 10.1007/s11136-005-3514-3

Cite this article as:
Wittenberg, E., Halpern, E., Divi, N. et al. Qual Life Res (2006) 15: 645. doi:10.1007/s11136-005-3514-3


Purpose: Preferences are known to vary by individuals’ personal experience with a health state, but variation among respondents’ scoring of the same hypothetical state is unproven but relevant to the use of community-perspective preference scores. This research explored the systematic contribution of respondents’ age, race and gender to variability in community perspective preferences for hypothetical health states. Methods: Data from four community samples were pooled for the analysis. Linear regression modeling was used to test for the effect of respondent age, race and gender on preference scores while controlling for health state severity. Results: In this sample of 956 preference scores from 390 individuals across 4 studies, older respondents provided lower preference scores for the same hypothetical health state compared with younger respondents (regression coefficient for 1 year of age = −0.002, p < 0.001), and white individuals provided higher preference scores for the same states compared with non-white individuals (regression coefficient = 0.056, p = 0.014). Conclusion: Preferences for hypothetical health states may vary by the age and race of the respondent providing the score. Community-perspective preferences should thus be elicited from large, random samples of the relevant population to ensure variation on these as well as other yet-unidentified characteristics that may affect scores.


hypothetical health statespreferencesrater age/race/genderutilitiesvalues
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© Springer 2006