Research methods for societal values to inform health technology evaluation

Project theme: Methods development 

A core principle of health technology evaluation is to appropriately value the benefits that health technologies provide and reflect society’s values and preferences. In order to establish evaluation methods that deliver this principle, robust evidence of those values and preferences is needed.

This challenge is highlighted by the recent review of NICE’s methods of health technology evaluation. The review identified evidence that people value more highly health benefits in people with severe diseases, leading NICE to introduce a ‘severity modifier’ that places additional weight on health gains in the most severe conditions. However, while there is evidence that this societal value is present, there remain important limitations in the evidence – including the magnitude of the additional value, how this relates to displacement and opportunity cost, and the meaning and definition of ‘severity’. NICE therefore introduced the severity modifier as a pragmatic solution, while committing to further research on societal value for the severity of disease to inform future methods updates.

There are several methods available for researching and measuring societal values and preferences. Each of these is likely to have relative strengths and limitations, both in general and for specific contexts or uses (for example, for researching the existence, magnitude or definition of societal value).


Project Team

Anju Keetharuth, Clara Mukuria, Donna Rowen


Anju Keetharuth