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Keywords:

  • public preferences;
  • responsibility;
  • inequality

SUMMARY

In cost-utility analysis, the numbers of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained are aggregated by placing the same weight on each QALY. Deviations from this rubric have been proposed on a number of grounds, including the degree to which persons might be deemed responsible for the illness faced, and inequality in lifetime health between groups. Most research has looked at these factors in isolation. This paper analyses public preferences about the relative importance of these factors. Over 500 members of the general public in the UK are interviewed in their homes. Where “blameworthy” groups experience a moderate drop in quality of life due to their behaviour, they appear to receive higher priority than an otherwise “trustworthy” group if they also experience poorer health prospects because the latter is weighted more heavily than the former. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.