May 23, 2013

Assesment and review

Disability weights in the Global Burden of Disease 2010: Unclear meaning and overstatement of international agreement

The Global Burden of Disease study is a huge effort to understand  worldwide population health. A former post explains some details and links. However, some calculations and estimates require and assessment and review. This is what Erik Nord explains in his article:

After a long history of changing concepts and methods in measuring ‘burden of disease’ the GBD 2010 has landed on ‘health’ as a unidimensional construct to be used forweighting multi-dimensional non-fatal health problems against each other and against death. At first glance this may look plausible. But the unidimensional health construct does not have a clear meaning. It likely also leads to biases in assessments of conditions that in everyday language are associated with ‘being ill’ as opposed to con-ditions which are not associated with ‘being ill’, namelystates of disability and the state dead. Furthermore, the transformation of ordinal data from paired comparisons into disability weights with purported ratio scale properties is not validated nor explained in a way that allows judgements of face validity.
And I would like to highlight this final consideration:
A value oriented burden of disease construct can either have a personal welfare content or a content that incorporates societal values in priority setting and resource allocation. Which of these would make the GBD enterprise most useful to decision makers is an important issue for further debate
I fully agree with this article. Aggregation without accurate metrics gives quick results, but uncertain for the implications we can derive, sometimes.