Advisory bodies, such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK, advocate using preference based instruments to measure the quality of life (QoL) component of the quality-adjusted life year (QALY). Cost per QALY is used to determine cost-effectiveness, and hence funding, of interventions. QALYs allow policy makers to compare the effects of different interventions across different patient groups. Generic measures may not be sensitive enough to fully capture the QoL effects for certain populations, such as carers, so there is a need to consider additional outcome measures, which are preference based where possible to enable cost-effectiveness analysis to be undertaken. This paper reviews outcome measures commonly used in health
services research and health economics research involving carers of people with dementia. An electronic database search was conducted in PubMed, Medline, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL),
PsycINFO, the National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) and Health Technology Assessment database. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they included
an outcome measure for carers of people with dementia. 2262 articles were identified. 455 articles describing 361 studies remained after exclusion criteria were applied. 228 outcome measures were extracted from the studies.
Measures were categorised into 44 burden measures, 43 mastery measures, 61 mood measures, 32 QoL measures, 27 social support and relationships measures and 21 staff competency and morale measures. The choice of
instrument has implications on funding decisions; therefore, researchers need to choose appropriate instruments for the population being measured and the type of intervention undertaken. If an instrument is not sensitive enough
to detect changes in certain populations, the effect of an intervention may be underestimated, and hence interventions which may appear to be beneficial to participants are not deemed cost-effective and are not funded.
If this is the case, it is essential that additional outcome measures which detect changes in broader QoL are included, whilst still retaining preference based utility measures such as EQ-5D to allow QALY calculation for comparability with other interventions.