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Health Serv Res. 1988 June; 23(2): 203–235.
PMCID: PMC1065501

A general health policy model: update and applications.


This article describes the development of a General Health Policy Model that can be used for program evaluation, population monitoring, clinical research, and policy analysis. An important component of the model, the Quality of Well-being scale (QWB) combines preference-weighted measures of symptoms and functioning to provide a numerical point-in-time expression of well-being, ranging from 0 for death to 1.0 for asymptomatic optimum functioning. The level of wellness at particular points in time is governed by the prognosis (transition rates or probabilities) generated by the underlying disease or injury under different treatment (control) variables. Well-years result from integrating the level of wellness, or health-related quality of life, over the life expectancy. Several issues relevant to the application of the model are discussed. It is suggested that a quality of life measure need not have separate components for social and mental health. Social health has been difficult to define; social support may be a poor criterion for resource allocation; and some evidence suggests that aspects of mental health are captured by the general measure. Although it has been suggested that measures of child health should differ from those used for adults, we argue that a separate conceptualization of child health creates new problems for policy analysis. After offering several applications of the model for the evaluation of prevention programs, we conclude that many of the advantages of general measures have been overlooked and should be given serious consideration in future studies.

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