, Volume 33, Issue 11, pp 1137–1154 | Cite as

Can The EQ-5D Detect Meaningful Change? A Systematic Review

  • Nalin PayakachatEmail author
  • Mir M. Ali
  • J. Mick Tilford
Systematic Review



The EQ-5D is one of the most frequently used, generic, preference-based instruments for measuring the health utilities of patients in economic evaluations. It is recommended for health technology assessment by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Because the EQ-5D plays such an important role in economic evaluations, useful information on its responsiveness to detect meaningful change in health status is required.


This study systematically reviewed and synthesized evidence on the responsiveness of the EQ-5D to detect meaningful change in health status for clinical research and economic evaluations.


We searched the EuroQol website, PubMed, PsychINFO, and EconLit databases to identify studies published in English from the inception of the EQ-5D until August 15, 2014 using keywords that were related to responsiveness. Studies that used only the EQ-VAS were excluded from the final analysis. Narrative synthesis was conducted to summarize evidence on the responsiveness of the EQ-5D by conditions or physiological functions.


Of 1401 studies, 145 were included in the narrative synthesis and categorized into 19 categories for 56 conditions. The EQ-5D was found to be responsive in 25 conditions (45 %) with the magnitude of responsiveness varying from small to large depending on the condition. There was mixed evidence of responsiveness in 27 conditions (48 %). Only four conditions (7 %) (i.e., alcohol dependency, schizophrenia, limb reconstruction, and hearing impairment) were identified where the EQ-5D was not responsive.


The EQ-5D is an appropriate measure for economic evaluation and health technology assessment in conditions where it has demonstrated evidence of responsiveness. In conditions with mixed evidence of responsiveness, researchers should consider using the EQ-5D with other condition-specific measures to ensure appropriate estimates of effectiveness. These conditions should be a main focus for future research using the new EQ-5D version with five response levels.


Health Technology Assessment Standardize Response Means Population Weight External Anchor Responsiveness Information 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Area under the curve


Area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Condition-specific measures

EQ-5D 5L

EuroQol-5 dimension 5 level descriptive system


EuroQol-5 dimension 3 level descriptive system


EuroQol-visual analogue scale


Effect size


European League against Rheumatism


Health-related quality of life


Health Utilities Index


Health Utilities Index Mark 3


National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence


New York Heart Association class


Quality-adjusted life year


Short-Form-6 dimension


Standardized response means


Time trade-off


Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index



No funding has been received for conducting and preparing this manuscript.

Conflicts of interest


Authors’ contributions

NP: study rationale and design, literature selection, quality assessment of studies, data extraction, evidence synthesis, interpretation and reflection, writing and reviewing of the manuscript, guarantor of the study. MMA: literature search, literature selection, data extraction, quality assessment of studies, writing of the manuscript. JMT: study rationale and design, interpretation and reflection, writing and reviewing of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nalin Payakachat
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mir M. Ali
    • 2
  • J. Mick Tilford
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Pharmaceutical Evaluation and Policy, Department of Pharmacy PracticeUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Policy and ManagementUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA

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