Where utility reflects the positive value of a health state to an individual (its desirability) and is expressed as the fraction of perfect health it entails, disutility reflects the complement of this fraction (its undesirability), 1 minus the utility. Thus, if a disability state is assigned a utility of .85, its disutility, relative to good health, is .15. Disutility is mostly used in comparative contexts, where states are compared relative to one another. In these cases, disutility is the difference in the average utility reported by persons with a given problem compared with those without the problem. An example is that of a treatment for menopausal symptoms that is 80% effective. If the utility for the health state “living with menopausal symptoms” is .6, a ...

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