Many metrics purport to measure individuals quality of life. Tools such as the EQ-5D and SF-36 do so largely based on functional status. Using other surveys on individual preferences, one can estimate patient utility for any given functional status level (i.e,. EQ-5D or SF-36 score). What these scores ignore, however, is the social component of health. People who are sick not only feel bad physically but they are often socially isolated, which can have a more severe impact on their quality of life. This is the topic of a study by Lamu and Olsen (2017). From their abstract:
Three alternative measures of health are used: For generic instruments (EQ-5D-5L; SF-6D), the total indirect effect was stronger (0.226; 0.249) than its direct effect (0.157; 0.205). For the visual analogue scale, the direct effect was stronger (0.322) than its total indirect effect (0.179). Most of the indirect effect of improved health on SWB transmitted through social relationships. The effect via income was small…An important lesson for researchers is to include meaningful items on social relationships when measuring the benefits from improved health. An important lesson for policy makers is that social isolation appears to be more detrimental to overall well-being than ill health.
- Lamu, Admassu N., and Jan Abel Olsen. “Yes, health is important, but as much for its importance via social life: The direct and indirect effects of health on subjective well‐being in chronically ill individuals.” Health Economics(2017).