The Development of Capability Measures in Health Economics: Opportunities, Challenges and Progress

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Recent years have seen increased engagement amongst health economists with the capability approach developed by Amartya Sen and others. This paper focuses on the capability approach in relation to the evaluative space used for analysis within health economics. It considers the opportunities that the capability approach offers in extending this space, but also the methodological challenges associated with moving from the theoretical concepts to practical empirical applications. The paper then examines three ‘families' of measures, Oxford Capability instruments (OxCap), Adult Social Care Outcome Toolkit (ASCOT) and ICEpop CAPability (ICECAP), in terms of the methodological choices made in each case. The paper concludes by discussing some of the broader issues involved in making use of the capability approach in health economics. It also suggests that continued exploration of the impact of different methodological choices will be important in moving forward.

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