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Depression and painful conditions: patterns of association with health status and health utility ratings in the general population

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Preference-weighted HRQoL (utility) ratings are increasingly used to guide clinical and resource allocation decisions, but their performance has not always been adequately explored. We sought to examine patterns of health utility ratings in community populations with depressive disorders and painful conditions.


We used two Canadian cross-sectional health surveys that obtained Comprehensive Health Status Measurement System/Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI3) ratings and identified people with painful conditions and major depression. We estimated the frequency of item endorsements and mean utility ratings in these groups.


Interesting differences between health state ratings and diagnostic categories were noted. For example, 71 % of those professionally diagnosed with migraine reported that they usually have “no pain.” Despite this, utility ratings were lower in those respondents with depressive episodes and in those with painful conditions. Greater than additive reductions in HUI3 scores were noted in most instances where both depressive disorders and painful conditions were present.


Health utility ratings confirm the clinical impression that painful conditions and depressive disorders magnify each other’s impact. Despite weak alignment between the health state definitions incorporated into utility ratings and the diagnostic concepts examined, the HUI3 appeared to capture HRQoL decrements and negative synergies associated with the co-occurrence of depressive episodes and painful conditions.

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Patten, S.B., Williams, J.V.A., Lavorato, D.H. et al. Depression and painful conditions: patterns of association with health status and health utility ratings in the general population. Qual Life Res 23, 363–371 (2014).

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