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It is the lifetime that matters: public preferences over maximising health and reducing inequalities in health
  1. Paul Dolan1,
  2. Akil Tsuchiya2
  1. 1Department of Social Policy, The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
  2. 2School of Health and Related Research, Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Aki Tsuchiya, ScHARR, University of Sheffield, 30 Regent Court, Sheffield S1 4DA, UK; a.tsuchiya{at}


Scarce healthcare resources can be allocated in many ways. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK focuses on the size of the benefit relative to costs, yet we know that there is support among clinicians and the general public for reducing inequalities in health. This paper shows how the UK general public trade-off these sometimes competing objectives, and the data we gather allow us to show the weight given to different population groups, for example, 1 extra year of life in full health to someone who would otherwise die at the age of 60 years is worth more than twice as much as an additional year of life to someone who would otherwise die at the age of 70 years. Such data can help inform the rationing decisions faced by all healthcare systems around the world.

  • Public preferences
  • lifetime health
  • health inequality
  • equity weights
  • health economics

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  • Funding The project was funded by the NCIE National Collaborating Centre for Research Methodology (RM03_JH11).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was granted by the University of Sheffield.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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