Filling the psycho-social gap in the EQ-5D: the empirical support for four bolt-on dimensions

Gang Chen, Jan Abel Olsen

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose: The EQ-5D is the most widely applied generic preference-based measure (GPBM) of health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Much concern has been raised that its descriptive system is lacking psycho-social dimensions. A recent paper in this journal provided theoretical support for four dimensions to fill this gap. The current paper aims to provide empirical support for these suggested bolt-on dimensions to the EQ-5D. Methods: We use data from the comprehensive Multi-Instrument-Comparison (MIC) study. The four proposed bolt-on dimensions (Vitality, Sleep, Social Relationships, and Community Connectedness) were selected from the Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL)-8D. We investigate the relative importance of these four dimensions as compared to the five EQ-5D-5L dimensions on explaining HRQoL (measured by a visual analogue scale; N = 7846) or global life satisfaction (measured by the Satisfaction With Life Scale; N = 8005), using the Shorrocks-Shapely decomposition analysis. Robustness analyses on Vitality was conducted using data from the United States National Health Measurement Study (NHMS) (N = 3812). Results: All five EQ-5D-5L dimensions and four bolt-on dimensions significantly explained the variance of HRQoL. Among them, Vitality was found to be the most important dimension with regard to the HRQoL (relative contribution based on the Shorrocks-Shapely decomposition of R2: 23.0%), followed by Usual Activities (15.1%). Self-Care was the least important dimension (relative contribution: 5.4%). As a comparison, when explaining global life satisfaction, Social Relationships was the most important dimension (relative contribution: 24.0%), followed by Anxiety/Depression (23.2%), while Self-Care remained the least important (relative contribution: 1.6%). The importance of the Vitality dimension in explaining HRQoL was supported in the robustness analysis using the NHMS data (relative contribution: 23.7%). Conclusions: We provide empirical support for complementing the current EQ-5D-5L descriptive system with a coherent set of four bolt-on dimensions that will fill its psycho-social gap. Such an extended health state classification system would in particular be relevant for programme evaluations within the expanding fields of mental health and community care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3119-3129
Number of pages11
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number11
Early online date9 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

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  • Bolt-on
  • EQ-5D
  • Health utility
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Life satisfaction


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