QALY is an acronym that stands for "Quality Adjusted Life Year." This is a medical term that describes an estimate of a person's life expectancy coupled with an estimation of the person's future quality of life. Calculating a person's QALY can help doctors and patients determine if a medical intervention is worthwhile. If an intervention makes a person live longer, but the quality of life is very poor, that patient (and doctor) may want to consider whether having the procedure is a good decision.
- Skill level:
Obtain a medical estimate concerning how long a patient is expected to live. This calculation is made based on a multitiude of factors such as existing medical conditions, severity of medical conditions, lifestyle, family history and overall physical health.
Obtain a medical estimate about the future quality of the years left to live. Physicians measure quality of life by evaluating multiple factors such as physical well-being, recreation, social relationships, community involvment and personal fulfilliment. For instance, a year of life that is half as enjoyable as a "normal" year for that individual would be measured as 0.5.
Multiply the estimates from steps one and two. For instance, if a patient is expected to live five years at 0.5 quality of life, the QALY would be 2.5 (the product of 5 x 0.5).
Tips and warnings
- QALY is merely an estimate. This prediction is not definite as to a person's future length or quality of life.
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