EQ-5D- 5L versus 3L: the impact on cost-effectiveness.

M Hernandez Alava, A Wailoo, S Grimm, S Pudney, M Gomes, Z Sadique, D Meads, J O’Dwyer , G Barton, L Irvine.


To model the relationship between EQ-5D-3L and EQ-5D-5L and examine how differences impact on cost-effectiveness in case studies.

We used two datasets that included both EQ-5D-3L and EQ-5D-3L from the same respondents. The EuroQoL dataset (n=3551) included patients with different diseases and a healthy cohort. The National Databank (NDB) dataset included patients with rheumatoid disease (n=5205). We estimated a system of ordinal regressions in each dataset using copula models, to link responses to the 3L instrument to 5L and its tariff, and vice versa. Results were applied to nine cost-effectiveness studies.

Best-fitting models differed between EuroQoL and NDB datasets in terms of the explanatory variables, copulas and coefficients. In both cases the coefficients of the covariates and latent factor between -3L and -5L were significantly different, indicating that the two instruments are not a uniform realignment of the response levels for most dimensions. In the case studies, moving from 3L to 5L caused a decrease of up to 87% in incremental QALYs gained from effective technologies in almost all cases. ICERs increased, often substantially. Conversely, one technology with a significant mortality gain saw increased incremental QALYs.

5L shifts mean utility scores up the utility scale towards full health and compresses them into a smaller range, compared to -3L. Improvements in quality of life are valued less using 5L than with 3L.
3L and 5L can produce substantially different estimates of cost effectiveness. There is no simple proportional adjustment that can be made to reconcile these differences.