Techniques to include carers' quality of life in economic evaluation

pair of hands holding another handTechniques to include carers’ quality of life in economic evaluation is a National Institute for Health Research funded project, being led by researchers in the Health Economics Unit at the University of Birmingham. Work on this project started in October 2015 and will end in September 2019.


There are currently 6.5 million family carers in the UK and population ageing and fiscal austerity are set to increase the pressure on family carers. Although most carers are willing, there are health, financial and social implications of caring. We think health systems could reduce strain on family carers by routinely considering carers’ needs alongside patients’ needs in healthcare decisions.

Our research

Our research will develop techniques to consider carer quality of life impacts directly in the economic evaluations that subsequently inform healthcare funding and provision.  We will do this by tackling a range of issues, from when to collect data from carers, through to how to conduct the economic evaluation.

We are principally working with family carers and care professionals in dementia, stroke and long-term mental illness. A ‘lived experience’ panel including five family carers is supporting the research project, with collaboration from experts from within the University of Birmingham and externally.

The project involves four stages of work:


Identify the types of healthcare interventions likely to impact on carers’ quality of life

Currently we know very little about the ‘spillover’ impacts of patient health and care interventions on family carers’ outcomes. We are conducting interviews, focus groups and online surveys with carers, care professionals and key researchers to identify what sort of healthcare interventions in dementia, stroke and mental health are most likely to impact on carer quality of life

Establish how carers’ quality of life can be best measured

Many measures of quality of life have been developed and used with carers but few are suitable for economic evaluation. The Carer Experience Scale and CarerQoL are two measures with emerging evidence of their validity. These measures will be completed in a postal survey and in qualitative interviews with carers to investigate the measures’ performance in dementia, stroke and mental health for family care.     

Test ways to incorporate carers’ quality of life in economic evaluation

This part of the project is concerned with the issue of how to incorporate the quality of life impacts of interventions on both patients and carers within economic evaluation. We will use online surveys and data from the postal survey, to quantify values for carers’ quality of life states. Different techniques will be used to generate values that could be used in different types of economic evaluation.

Weighing up the value of health and social care services docx

Value carer outcomes in an existing economic evaluation

There are methodological challenges in including care-related quality of life in economic evaluation. We will conduct a case study to demonstrate how, in practice, carer quality of life can be valued and incorporated within economic evaluation.


Carer and family spillovers in economic evaluation One Day Workshop

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