Tamoxifen for breast cancer risk reduction: Impact of alternative approaches to quality-of-life adjustment on cost-effectiveness analysis

Joy Melnikow, Stephen Birch, Christina Slee, Theodore J. McCarthy, L. Jay Helms, Miriam Kuppermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), the effects of health-care interventions on multiple health dimensions typically require consideration of both quantity and quality of life. OBJECTIVES: To explore the impact of alternative approaches to quality-of-life adjustment using patient preferences (utilities) on the outcome of a CEA on use of tamoxifen for breast cancer risk reduction. RESEARCH DESIGN: A state transition Markov model tracked hypothetical cohorts of women who did or did not take 5 years of tamoxifen for breast cancer risk reduction. Incremental quality-adjusted effectiveness and cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for models including and excluding a utility adjustment for menopausal symptoms were compared with each other and to a global utility model. SUBJECTS: Two hundred fifty-five women aged 50 and over with estimated 5-year breast cancer risk ?1.67% participated in utility assessment interviews. MEASURES: Standard gamble utilities were assessed for specified tamoxifen-related health outcomes, current health, and for a global assessment of possible outcomes of tamoxifen use. RESULTS: Inclusion of a utility for menopausal symptoms in the outcome-specific models substantially increased the ICER; at the threshold 5-year breast cancer risk of 1.67%, tamoxifen was dominated. When a global utility for tamoxifen was used in place of outcome-specific utilities, tamoxifen was dominated under all circumstances. CONCLUSIONS: CEAs may be profoundly affected by the types of outcomes considered for quality-of-life adjustment and how these outcomes are grouped for utility assessment. Comparisons of ICERs across analyses must consider effects of different approaches to using utilities for quality-of-life adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)946-953
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Care
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008



  • Breast cancer prevention
  • Costeffectiveness analysis
  • Quality-adjusted life year
  • Tamoxifen
  • Utilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing(all)
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)

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