A rational justification for therapeutic decisions can be developed using probability and decision theory. The set of treatments and their outcomes or consequences, which are states of health, have to be defined; and estimates made of the probabilities of outcomes, their utilities, and the costs of treatments. Most difficult is the estimation of utilities of states of health but this may be possible using a ‘wagering’ technique. Until it is possible to establish some equivalence between utility and money, costs may be introduced by measuring the efficiency of treatment by comparing expected utilities per unit cost. The whole method is examined practically in a plausible clinical setting. Emphasis is laid on the value of testing the completed model using a computer to get an intimate feel of the problem using different assumptions and different values for all the parameters.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Bunker, J. P., Barnes, B. A., and Mosteller, F. (eds.),Costs, Risks, and Benefits of Surgery, Oxford University Press, New York, 1977.
Card, W. I., “Development of a formal structure for clinical management decisions; a mathematical analysis’, inOutcome of Severe Damage to the Central Nervous System, Ciba Foundation Symposium 34 (new series), Elsevier, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1975.
Card, W. I., and Good, I. J., ‘A logical analysis of medicine’, inA Companion To Medical Studies, Vol. 3, edited by Passmore, R. and Robson, J. S., Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, 1974.
Card, W. I., and Mooney, G. H., ‘What is the monetary value of a human life?’Brit. med. J. 1977/II, 1627–1629.
Card, W. I., Rusinkiewicz, M., and Phillips, C. I., ‘Utility estimation of a set of states of health’,Meth. Inform. Med. 16, (1977) 168–175.
Carney, M. W. P., Roth, M., and Garside, R. F., ‘The diagnosis of depressive syndromes and the prediction of E. C. T. response’,Brit. J. Psychiat. 111, (1965) 659–674.
Cay, Elizabeth L., Philip, A. E., Small, W. P., Neilson, J., and Henderson, M. A., ‘Patients assessment of the result of surgery for peptic ulcer’,Lancet 1975/I, 29–34.
Dawson, R. F. F.,Current Costs of Road Accidents in Great Britain, Road Research Laboratory, London, 1971.
DeGroot, M. H.,Optimal Statistical Decisions, McGraw Hill Book Co., New York, 1970.
Jones-Lee, M. W.,The Value of Life, Martin Robertson, London, 1976.
Lindley, D. V.,Making Decisions, Wiley Interscience, London, 1971.
Lindley, D. V., ‘The effect of ethical design considerations on statistical analysis’,J. roy. stat. Soc., Series C 24, (1975) 218–228.
Milholland, V. V., Wheeler, S. G., and Heieck, J. J., ‘Medical assessment by a Delphi group opinion technic’,New Engl. J. Med. 288, (1973) 1272–1275.
Neuhauser, D., and Lewicki, A. M., ‘What do we gain from the sixth stool guaiac?’New Engl. J. Med. 293, (1975) 226–228.
von Neumann, J., and Morgenstern, O.,Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour, 3rd edn., Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1953.
Weinstein, M. C., Pliskin, J. S., and Stason, W. B., ‘Coronary artery bypass surgery: decision and policy analysis’, in Bunker, Barnes and Mosteller , 342–361.
About this article
Cite this article
Card, W.I. Rational justification for therapeutic decisions. Metamedicine 1, 11–28 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00883516
- Therapeutic decision
- Decision theory
- Monetary value of life