Utility Study Design

As the use of economic evaluation for pharmaceutical market access decision-making increases, Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) and utility assessments are being used as a key outcome measure within these evaluations. The calculation of QALYs is a central part of the reference case for economic evaluations of pharmaceuticals submitted to UK HTA bodies such as NICE and SMC.

At Tolley Health Economics, we can put together a skilled team using a network of experts to design your utility study for your HTA submissions and/or publication(s).

There are a number of valuation methods which are frequently used in direct measurement studies that we can use for your utility study. These include:


Standard Gamble (SG)


Time trade-off (TTO)


Rating Scale (Visual Analogue Scale (VAS))


Vignette/Scenario Studies

We can also use indirect measurement methods, such as the generic utility instrument, whereby a set of non-disease-specific health states, based on a combination of general attributes, have been valued by a general public sample.
The three instruments that we most commonly use are:



SF-36 (Short Form 36)


HUI (Health Utilities Index)

NICE has a hierarchy of methods for the derivation of utilities, with the use of the EQ-5D within clinical trials being the preferred method. However, if it is not available, utilities can be derived using the TTO valuation method.

Utilities can also be measured using the method of mapping the descriptions from a disease-specific QoL instrument onto the utility algorithm of a generic instrument.

At Tolley Health Economics, we can perform mapping/cross-walk utility studies with an empirical database containing bot the HRQoL instrument and a generic instrument such as the EQ-5D to generate a mapping function.


If you would like to receive more information on how we can help you with the design of your utility study, please