What is AQoL?

The Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL) instruments are health-related multi-attribute utility quality of life instruments.  Initially they were designed for use in economic evaluation studies (cost utility analysis (CUA). However their use is broader and need not be limited to economic or health related work. To date, four AQoL instruments have been developed.

For historical and institutional reasons the instrument names are used inconsistently in the literature, although on this website the labels in the diagram are used consistently.

The AQoL program is evolving and new algorithms and transformations are currently under development.

The reason for multiple instruments is discussed in Choice of an instrument.


Why use a Multi Attribute Utility Instrument?

MAU instruments are useful even in clinical trials where the focus of the study is well defined such as a program for improving vision. While there is a plethora of disease specific instruments the use of a broad based – multi attribute – instrument is often desirable as it has the potential to identify unexpected effects of a therapy. In particular a narrowly focused element instrument may fail to detect psycho social changes which some MAU instruments were designed to measure.

The particular advantage of a MAU instrument is that it weights the various responses by the relative importance (preference weight or utility) to the public of each attribute which allows a meaningful summation of scores.

Instruments such as the AQoL suite may serve multiple purposes. They may provide:

  • utility scores before and after intervention for use in economic evaluation studies;
  • utility scores that are descriptive (epidemiological) in a study of different populations;
  • disaggregated profiles of individuals or populations cross sectionally or longitudinally using data from individual items or (in the case of AQoL) dimension scores.

The AQoL program was undertaken to increase instrument sensitivity - the ability to pick up nuanced differences in QoL- in areas such as mental health or health states with a major impact upon handicap (as distinct from impairment) where other instrument sensitivity is questionable.