Are Health States “Timeless”? The Case of the Standard Gamble Method Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The standard gamble method, as currently recommended for use in health care program evaluation, provides an individual's preference score or "utility weight" for living in a given health state for the rest of the individual's life. Many researchers interpret this value as a time-independent or "timeless" one and order health states on a scale of zero (death) to one (full health), regardless of the time spent in the health state. This article examines whether preference scores for a severe pain health state are "timeless," or in other words whether the utility independence assumption is satisfied. Our study results suggest that for the majority of respondents, the preference scores are not independent of time.


  • Bala, Mohan V
  • Wood, Lisa L
  • Zarkin, Gary A
  • Norton, Edward C
  • Gafni, Amiram Jacob
  • O'Brien, Bernie J

publication date

  • November 1999