A systematic review of utility values for chemotherapy-related adverse events

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BACKGROUND: Chemotherapy offers cancer patients the potential benefits of improved mortality and morbidity but may cause detrimental outcomes due to adverse drug events (ADEs), some of which requiring time-consuming, resource-intensive and costly clinical management. To appropriately assess chemotherapy agents in an economic evaluation, ADE-related parameters such as the incidence, (dis)utility and cost of ADEs should be reflected within the model parameters. To date, there has been no systematic summary of the existing literature that quantifies the utilities of ADEs due to healthcare interventions in general and chemotherapy treatments in particular.

OBJECTIVE: This review aimed to summarize the current evidence base of reported utility values for chemotherapy-related ADEs.

METHODS: A structured electronic search combining terms for utility, utility valuation methods and generic terms for cancer treatment was conducted in MEDLINE and EMBASE in June 2011. Inclusion criteria were: (1) elicitation of utility values for chemotherapy-related ADEs and (2) primary data. Two reviewers identified studies and extracted data independently. Any disagreements were resolved by a third reviewer.

RESULTS: Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria from the 853 abstracts initially identified, collectively reporting 218 utility values for chemotherapy-related ADEs. All 18 studies used short descriptions (vignettes) to obtain the utility values, with nine studies presenting the vignettes used in the valuation exercises. Of the 218 utility values, 178 were elicited using standard gamble (SG) or time trade-off (TTO) approaches, while 40 were elicited using visual analogue scales (VAS). There were 169 utility values of specific chemotherapy-related ADEs (with the top ten being anaemia [34 values], nausea and/or vomiting [32 values], neuropathy [21 values], neutropenia [12 values], diarrhoea [12 values], stomatitis [10 values], fatigue [8 values], alopecia [7 values], hand-foot syndrome [5 values] and skin reaction [5 values]) and 49 of non-specific chemotherapy-related adverse events. In most cases, it was difficult to directly compare the utility values as various definitions and study-specific vignettes were used for the ADEs of interest.

LIMITATIONS: This review was designed to provide an overall description of existing literature reporting utility values for chemotherapy-related ADEs. The findings were not exhaustive and were limited to publications that could be identified using the search strategy employed and those reported in the English language.

CONCLUSIONS: This review identified wide ranges in the utility values reported for broad categories of specific chemotherapy-related ADEs. There were difficulties in comparing the values directly as various study-specific definitions were used for these ADEs and most studies did not make the vignettes used in the valuation exercises available. It is recommended that a basic minimum requirement be developed for the transparent reporting of study designs eliciting utility values, incorporating key criteria such as reporting how the vignettes were developed and presenting the vignettes used in the valuation tasks as well as valuing and reporting the utility values of the ADE-free base states. It is also recommended, in the future, for studies valuing the utilities of chemotherapy-related ADEs to define the ADEs according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) definitions for chemotherapy-related ADEs as the use of the same definition across studies would ease the comparison and selection of utility values and make the overall inclusion of adverse events within economic models of chemotherapy agents much more straightforward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-88
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Neoplasms
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review


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