The objective of this study was to empirically estimate the expected utility gained from the implementation of the 1997 helmet law in Taiwan by using quality-adjusted survival time (QAST). We randomly selected 400 out of 8221 registered cases of head injury and successfully interviewed 99 cases with the index of health-related quality of life (IHRQ). The function of IHRQ was then multiplied with the corresponding survival function to obtain the QAST for head injury. The total utility gained from the helmet law in Taipei within 1 year was estimated by multiplying the expected loss of utility per patient with the number of prevented cases. The results showed that after 80 months of follow-up, the QAST of the injured population was 66.3 quality-adjusted life-months (QALMs), while that of the reference population was 78.7 QALMs. We extrapolated the QAST for total life expectancy by simulating the survival of head injury cases using the life table data from the general population. The life-long utility loss of a head injury case was found to be 4.8 quality-adjusted life-years (QALY). The number of prevented cases during the first year of enforcement of the helmet law was estimated to be 1300 cases in Taipei, which amounted to 6240 QALYs gained. For lack of data, we were unable to calculate the possible gain from helmet on reduction of severity among nonfatal cases with head injury, and the estimation was only a lower bound. We concluded that the QAST approach is a feasible approach applicable to health policy decision-making, especially in cost-utility analysis.
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