QALYS in public health: what are they?


The National Health Service (NHS), costs incurred by the health system and the need to undertake ‘cost-cutting’ in the NHS are frequent news stories… just currently over-shadowed by the EU referendum! Public health plays an obvious role in maintaining population health and reducing the demands on the health care system. But what evidence is required to support decision-making in the context of competing needs? Economic evaluation provides a framework to compare costs and effectiveness of different interventions in order to aid decision making.

The question then is how decision-makers compare outcomes from medical technologies with public health policies or interventions? The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends the use of the quality adjusted life year (QALY) as a key outcome measure in economic evaluations of public health interventions. Jurisdictions outside the UK will frequently report the disability adjusted life year (DALY) which is similar in some respects to the QALY. What is the QALY (or DALY) and why is it a useful measure?

Katherine Stevens, Clara Mukuria and other colleagues  in the Health Economics and Decision Science section of ScHARR have developed a free online course which outlines what the QALY is over 3 weeks from 11th July 2016. The course is an introductory level course that is suitable for anyone with an interest in public health. For more information and to register see: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/valuing-health #FLValuingHealth #QALYs

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