QALYS and DALYS as synthetic indicators of health

Nelson Alvis, María Teresa Valenzuela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This article is a revision of the genesis and use of the health synthetic indicators QALYs and DALYs. The chronology of their appearance is shown and similarities and differences between them stated. DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life-Years) correspond to years of life that are adjusted by a certain level of disability experienced during a particular period of time. DALYs, by studying disease burden, summarize the impact of mortality and disability related to specific disease in different communities. On the other hand, QALYs (Quality-Adjusted Life-Years) summarize health results in an indicator that combines the number of years lived with the quality of life experienced over those years. QALYs and DALYs play a crucial role as results measures in economic evaluation studies (cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analysis) measuring the impact of actions or specific interventions in the reversion of disease burden (DALYs) and/or the improvement of the quality of life and life expectancy of patients (QALYs). Their generic character allows the comparison of the impact of health interventions for different diseases.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)83-87
Number of pages5
JournalRevista Medica de Chile
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • DALYs
  • Disease burden
  • Economic evaluation
  • QALYs


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