Usefulness of Utility in Making Decisions about Palliative Care

Russell K. Portenoy and Eduardo Bruera

in Issues in Palliative Care Research

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780195130652
Published online November 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199999842 | DOI:
Usefulness of Utility in Making Decisions about Palliative Care

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Utility can be used to rank treatments based on their effect and to calculate cost-utility ratios. Change in utility is difficult to show for palliative care interventions because the effects of the interventions are small, the effects of the disease are large, and current global instruments do not capture the benefit. This chapter suggests that the most practical use is to quantify the benefits and toxicities of various interventions and to illustrate the future health states that the patient is likely to experience. This may be useful in patient decision making but requires an informed, knowledge-seeking patient, who is willing to make choices informed by data. At present, utility and cost-utility are not useful in resource allocation, except as an implicit way to illustrate benefit for comparative cost and clinical decision making.

Keywords: resource allocation; utility; cost-utility ratios; palliative care intervention; clinical decision making

Chapter.  4271 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Palliative Medicine

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