Objectives: Evidence comparing utilities for adults and children consistently report higher utility values for child health states. This study investigates the reasons why child health states are valued differently. Methods: A total of 80 respondents (United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands) participated in 1.5-hour face-to-face interviews. Respondents valued 4 health states from 2 perspectives (8-year-old child, 40-year-old adult) using visual analog scale and time trade-off. A total of 32 respondents participated in think-aloud interviews. Audio recordings were analyzed by 2 independent coders using NVIVO software. Statements, nodes, and themes were reviewed cyclically until consensus was reached. Results: Qualitative results: a total of 5 themes were identified in the data regarding child and adult valuation—intergenerational responsibility and dependency (childhood is crucial for forming life skills based on new experiences; adulthood is an important time to take care of the family), staying alive is important (life is worth living even with impaired health-related quality of life (HRQoL), for children and adults), awareness of poor HRQoL and ability to make decisions (children have difficulties comprehending poor HRQoL and their parents make their healthcare decision; adults can assess their own HRQoL and decide for themselves), coping ability (children are flexible and resilient; adults have experience with dealing with difficulties), and practical organization of care (children are cared for by their parents; adults are able to organize and pay for care). Mixed methods: comparing qualitative statements with respondents’ higher utilities for child health states confirmed concordance between results. Conclusions: Quality-adjusted life-years are interpreted differently for children and adults. Child-specific value sets are needed to reflect society's preferences and to adequately conduct health technology assessment of pediatric treatments.
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Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors reported receiving grants from EuroQol Research Foundation during the conduct of the study. Drs Janssen and Shah reported receiving grants from the EuroQol Research Foundation outside the submitted work. Dr Lloyd reported being a member of the EuroQol Group Executive Committee during the conduct of this study. No other disclosures were reported.