Which is more valuable, longer survival or better quality of life? Israeli oncologists' and family physicians' attitudes toward the relative value of new cancer and congestive heart failure interventions Academic Article uri icon


  • Objectives We determined how Israeli oncologists and family physicians value life-prolongation versus quality-of-life (QOL)-enhancing outcomes attributable to cancer and congestive heart failure interventions. Methods We presented physicians with two scenarios involving a hypothetical patient with metastatic cancer expected to survive 12 months with current treatment. In a life-prolongation scenario, we suggested that a new treatment increases survival at an incremental cost of $50,000 over the standard of care. Participants were asked what minimum improvement in median survival the new therapy would need to provide for them to recommend it over the standard of care. In the QOL-enhancing scenario, we asked the maximum willingness to pay for an intervention that leads to the same survival as the standard treatment, but increases patient's QOL from 50 to 75 (on a 0–100 scale). We replicated these scenarios by substituting a patient with congestive heart failure instead of metastatic cancer. We derived the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained threshold implied by each response. Results In the life-prolongation scenario, the cost-effectiveness thresholds implied by oncologists were $150,000/QALY and $100,000/QALY for cancer and CHF, respectively. Cost-effectiveness thresholds implied by family physicians were $50,000/QALY regardless of the disease type. Willingness to pay for the QOL-enhancing scenarios was $60,000/QALY and did not differ by physicians' specialty or disease. Conclusions Our findings suggest that family physicians value life-prolonging and QOL-enhancing interventions roughly equally, while oncologists value interventions that extend survival more highly than those that improve only QOL. These findings may have important implications for coverage and reimbursement decisions of new technologies.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013