Health values of the seriously ill

Joel Tsevat, E. Francis Cook, Michael L. Green, David B. Matchar, Neal V. Dawson, Steven K. Broste, Albert W. Wu, Russell S. Phillips, Robert K. Oye, Lee Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess 1) the health values and health ratings of seriously ill hospitalized patients, their surrogate decision makers, and their physicians; 2) the determinants of health values; and 3) whether health values change over time. Design: Prospective, longitudinal, multicenter study. Setting: 5 academic medical centers. Participants: 1438 seriously ill patients with at least one of nine diseases who had a projected overall 6- month mortality rate of 50%; their surrogates; and their physicians. Measurements: Time-tradeoff utilities (reflecting preferences for a shorter but healthy life) and health ratings. Results: At study day 3, patients had a mean time-tradeoff utility of 0.73 ± 0.32 (median [25th, 75th percentile], 0.92 [0.63, 1.0]), indicating that they equated living I year in their current state of health with living 8.8 months in excellent health. However, scores varied widely; 34.8% of patients were unwilling to exchange any time in their current state of health for a shorter life in excellent health (utility, 1.0), and 9.0% were willing to live 2 weeks or less in excellent health rather than 1 year in their current state of health (utility, 0.04). Health rating scores averaged 57.8 ± 24.0 (median [25th percentile, 75th percentile], 60 [50, 75]) on a scale of 0 (death) to 100 (perfect health). The patients' mean time-tradeoff score exceeded that of their paired surrogates (n = 1041) by 0.08 (P < 0.0001). Time-tradeoff scores were related to psychosocial well-being; health ratings; desire for resuscitation and extension of life rather than relief of pain and discomfort; degree of willingness to live with constant pain; and perceived prognosis for survival and independent functioning. Scores of surviving patients increased by an average of 0.06 after 2 months (P < 0.0001) and 0.08 after 6 months (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Health values of seriously ill patients vary widely, are higher than patients' surrogates believe, are related to few other preference and health status measures, and increase over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)514-520
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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