BACKGROUND: The Quality Adjusted Life Year influences the allocation of significant amounts of healthcare resources. Despite this surprisingly little research effort has been devoted to analysing how beliefs and attitudes to hastening death influence preferences for health states anchored at "dead" and "perfect health". In this paper we examine how, inter alia, adherence to particular religious beliefs (religiosity) influences attitudes to euthanasia and how, inter alia, attitudes to euthanasia influences the willingness to assign worse than dead (WTD) values to health states using data collected as part of the Irish EQ5D5L valuation study.
METHODS: A sample of 160 respondents each supplied 10 composite time trade-off valuations and information on religiosity and attitudes to euthanasia as part of a larger national survey. Data were analysed using a recursive bivariate probit model in which attitudes to euthanasia and willingness to assign WTD values were analysed jointly as functions of a range of covariates.
RESULTS: Religiosity was a significant determinant of attitudes to euthanasia and attitudes to euthanasia were a significant determinant of the likelihood of assigning WTD values. A significant negative correlation in errors between the two probit models was observed indicative of support for the hypothesis of endogeneity between attitudes to euthanasia and readiness to assign WTD values.
CONCLUSION: In Ireland attitudes and beliefs play an important role in understanding health state preferences. Beyond Ireland this may have implications for: the construction of representative samples; understanding the values accorded health states and; the frequency with which value sets must be updated.