Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 107–114

Characterizing QALYs by Risk Neutrality

  • Han Bleichrodt
  • Peter Wakker
  • Magnus Johannesson

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007726117003

Cite this article as:
Bleichrodt, H., Wakker, P. & Johannesson, M. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty (1997) 15: 107. doi:10.1023/A:1007726117003


This paper shows that QALYs can be derived from more elementary conditions than thought hitherto in the literature: it suffices to impose risk neutrality for life years in every health state. This derivation of QALYs is appealing because it does not require knowledge of concepts from utility theory such as utility independence. Therefore our axiomatization greatly facilitates the assessment of the normative (non)validity of QALYs in medical decision making. Moreover, risk neutrality can easily be tested in experimental designs, which makes it straightforward to assess the descriptive (non)validity of QALYs.

QALYs value of life utility independence risk neutrality 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Han Bleichrodt
    • 1
  • Peter Wakker
    • 2
  • Magnus Johannesson
    • 3
  1. 1.Erasmus University RotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Leiden UniversityThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Stockholm School of EconomicsSweden

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