Psychometric Versus Preference-Based Health-Related Quality of Life Summary Measures


This webinar addresses the distinction between psychometric and preference-based summary measures of health-related quality of life (HRQL).

The webinar will conclude with a moderated discussion of strengths and limitations of psychometric versus preference-based summary measures in relation to patient-reported outcomes research, health care decision making and clinical practice.


Psychometric methods are used to obtain scales for multiple domains or aspects of HRQL (profiles). Some domains are correlated strongly enough to support aggregation into higher-order dimensions (e.g., physical and mental health). Summary measures can provide parsimonious information with greater reliability than the scales from which they are derived. Their interpretation depends on the content of the corresponding measurement items or questions.

In health preference research, a meaningful change in HRQOL is defined by its influence on choice (i.e., choice defines value), not a scale. Decisions typically require an understanding of a wide variety of outcomes and their trade-offs. Preference-based summary measures weigh these outcomes based on their “value” to inform benefit-risk analyses (Should the treatment be approved?), economic evaluations (Should the treatment be covered?), clinical recommendations (Which patients should be treated?), and decision support tools (How should you be treated?). Their interpretation depends on the decision makers’ perspective (e.g., patient, caregiver, societal). 

Learning Outcomes/Objectives

After the webinar, the learner will be able to:

  • To understand differences between psychometric and preference-based summary score
  • To learn about the different purposes for using psychometric and preference-based summary scores
  • To meaningfully interpret psychometric and preference-based summary scores in relation to the various purposes for which they are used


  • Ron D. Hays, Professor, UCLA Department of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Benjamin Craig, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Tampa, Florida, United States

Richard Sawatzky, PhD RN, Trinity Western University and Providence Health Care

Organized By:
The Psychometrics, Health Preferences Research, QOL in Clinical Practice, and Industry SIGs








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