Decomposition of Quality-Adjusted Life Expectancy Inequalities by Mortality and Health-Related Quality of Life Dimensions

James Love-Koh*, Paul Schneider, Simon McNamara, Tim Doran, Nils Gutacker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) combines mortality risk and multidimensional health-related quality of life (HRQoL) information to measure healthy life expectancy in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). This paper estimates the relative importance of individual quality of life dimensions in explaining inequalities in QALE.

METHODS: We combined EQ-5D-5L data from the Health Survey for England for 2017 and 2018 (N = 14,412) with full population mortality data from the Office for National Statistics to calculate QALE by age, sex and deprivation quintile. The effect of HRQoL dimensions on the socioeconomic gradient in QALE was decomposed using an iterative imputation approach, in which inequalities associated with socioeconomic status in each domain were removed by imputing the response distribution of the richest quintile for all participants. Sampling uncertainty in the HRQoL data was evaluated using bootstrapping.

RESULTS: People in the least deprived fifth of neighbourhoods in England can expect to live 7.0 years longer and experience 11.1 more QALYs than those in the most deprived fifth. Inequalities in HRQoL accounted for 28.0% and 45.7% of QALE inequalities for males and females, respectively. Pain/discomfort, anxiety/depression and mobility were the most influential HRQoL domains.

DISCUSSION: Our results identify the extent of inequalities associated with socioeconomic status in lifetime health and the relative importance of inequalities by mortality and HRQoL. The contributions of the individual dimensions of HRQoL towards lifetime inequalities vary substantially by sex. Our findings can help to identify the types of interventions most likely to alleviate health inequalities, which may be different for males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-841
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023. Crown.


  • Male
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Life Expectancy
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Health Surveys

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