The Global Burden of Disease study is an attempt to quantify the level of morbidity and mortality in the world associated with different disease conditions. The survey, which has been conducted periodically since the early 1990s, has radically transformed the way in which we think about the health of the world by giving us the DALY – an internally consistent way of measuring and comparing what makes us ill in the world.
A key assumption behind the Global Burden of Disease project is that it is possible to come up with a “Disability Weight” for each health state. Diseases conditions that are considered worse than other carry higher disability weights than others. A very important issue in the development of such weights is the question of who should define these conditions? Should those who have the conditions be the best judge or are they biased? Should healthy people who have never experienced these conditions be the judge? Should doctors decide? Should policy makers? Should health economists (gasp!!)?
In the past, the GBD has relied upon “expert opinion” to make such decisions. Well, it seems for the next update of the GBD, which is currently underway, you can also be an expert. I came across a link to the following survey earlier today that allows you to have some input in these weights.
Here is an example of a question that I was asked:
|The first person has swelling and tenderness in the testicles and pain during urination.||The second person has lost part of both legs, leaving pain, tingling, and frequent sores in the stumps. The person has great difficulty moving around and has episodes of depression, anxiety and flashbacks to the injury.|
Although I don’t have testicles (and despite the fact that most men seem to make it seem like pain there is about the worse possible thing in the world) nor do I have any idea what it must be like to have lost part of both of my legs, I still went with the sores on the stumps as being less healthy. Would you agree?
I have not had this much geeky fun in ages….