Human Health Economics (continued)

Human Health Economics (continued)

The main difficulty in combining risk assessment outputs with health valuation lies in the different metrics applied by practitioners, however, increasingly, both disciplines are joining forces to make approaches work for both.   The Population Attributable Fraction (PAF) is the proportional reduction in population disease or mortality that would occur if exposure to a risk factor were reduced.  PAFs can be linked to cost-of-illness approaches in order to estimate the benefits of intervention, in monetary terms, as costs are averted.  

Contingent Valuation approaches have also been used to value the benefits of policies.   Measures such as the value of a statistical life and the value of a life year do not put a value on a given person’s life, but reflect individuals’ willingness to pay for a small reduction in the risk of a particular outcome.

 In the area of healthcare interventions, economic evaluation will usually be conducted in the form of a cost-effectiveness analysis with the units of effectiveness expressed in QALYs or DALYs, with QALYs and DALYs combining quantity and quality of life.  A QALY focusses on time in different health states, with a year of perfect health being 1 and a year of less and death considered to be equivalent to zero.  Increasingly, DALYs and QALYs are being recognised as useful metrics in policy contexts other than healthcare interventions.

Our work in developing guidance on SEAs has investigated the scope of use of the different methods outlined above in different policy contexts and according to the type of information available.  We excel at using such methods to provide estimates of human health impacts which can help both industry and government bodies in their future planning.

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