Economic assessment is of utmost importance in the healthcare decision-making process. The quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) concept provides a rare opportunity to combine two crucial aspects of health, i.e., mortality and morbidity, into a single index to perform cost-utility comparison. Today, many tools are available to measure morbidity in terms of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and a large literature describes how to use them. Knowing their characteristics and development process is a key point for elaborating, adapting, or selecting the most well-suited instrument for further needs. In this aim, we conducted a systematic review on instruments used for QALY calculation, and 46 studies were selected after searches in four databases: Medline EBSCO, Scopus, ScienceDirect, and PubMed. The search procedure was done to identify all relevant publications up to 18 June 2020. We mainly focused on the type of instrument developed (i.e., generic or specific), the number and the nature of dimensions and levels used, the elicitation method and the model selected to determine utility scores, and the instrument and algorithm validation methods. Results show that studies dealing with the development of specific instruments were mostly motivated by the inappropriateness of generic instruments in their field. For the dimensions’ and levels’ selection, item response theory, Rasch analysis, and literature review were mostly used. Dimensions and levels were validated by methods like the Loevinger H, the standardised response mean, or discussions with experts in the field. The time trade-off method was the most widely used elicitation method, followed by the visual analogue scale. Random effects regression models were frequently used in determining utility scores.
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