Health Outcomes Measurement: a course review

The second semester of the Health Economics, Policy and Management programme continued with one of the most interesting courses so far: “Health Outcomes Measurement”. During almost two months we learned how to describe and compare different health outcomes measures as well as the different methods used to value health states.


The course had a duration of 6 weeks. Lectures were conducted on both mornings and afternoons. We also had a considerable amount of time allocated towards individual studies, as this course required a lot of reading. Computer based exercises were held as day-long sessions.

Course structure and lectures:

This course used different teaching methods to cover all the measurement instruments tools as well as more practical content. The topics addressed during this course include:

  • Self-rated health
  • Generic health outcomes measures
  • Condition-specific outcomes measures
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Utility measures
  • Quality-adjusted life year
  • Methods for valuation of health states
  • Valuation perspective
  • Methods for data collection
  • Health outcomes data analyses
  • Presenting health outcomes results
  • Determinants for health
  • Inequalities in health
  • Equity aspects and ethical aspects
  • Population studies
  • Measurement in vulnerable groups
  • Applications in different contexts

The teachers conducted several seminars to help us to self-assess and reflect upon the most commonly used health outcomes measurement instruments, including: EQ-5D, Visual Analogue Scale, Time Trade Off, Health Utility Index and SF-36, among others.

The course director is no other than worldwide renowned researcher and professor of health economics Kristina Burström. Professor Burström has several publications on the topic as she has devoted her life to health outcomes research. She currently leads the “Health outcomes and economic evaluation” research group of Karolinska Institutet. Moreover, during the course we received many lectures from very experienced professionals from the public, private and academic sector. I must highlight how encouraging it is to be taught by the same researchers who authored the recommended literature for the course.

You can review Prof. Burström’s amazing work by clicking here: (


This course was assessed as usual with both individual and group evaluations.

  • Group evaluation: This has been one of the most entertaining group evaluations we have had so far during the programme. The teachers assigned us with one country and asked us to choose one relevant public health issue for that particular country. Our task consisted in designing a national health outcomes study using one general and one disease-specific measurement tool for the illness that we chose. We also had to reflect on the policy implications of our study and its relation to the Sustainable Development Goals. During the final presentation, we simulated an national conference where the teachers and the audience acted as different stakeholders. The role-play allowed everyone to be creative and raise important questions from different perspectives.
  • Individual evaluation: This examination has been one of the -if not the– longest evaluation I have ever had. We were provided with a list of mandatory literature and 3 questions that we had to answer. Yes, only 3 questions. The tricky and challenging part was to integrate all the content from the readings in order to answer the questions holistically, and also referencing every argument we made based on evidence.
  • Evaluation in couples: Computer-based exercises.

Computer-based exercises:

This course also included some sessions of computer-based exercises that were also part of the overall evaluation. We used SPSS to perform different statistical analyses using real data from the Swedish population.

The best part of these exercises was actually the aftermath, where we had the chance of writing our findings from the results as if we were intending to publish them. Also, the teachers provided us with feedback and guidance during each step of the process to make sure we were actually understanding what we were doing. Imagine having an world-class researcher completely devoted to teach and provide you with feedback for your academic writing. Awesome, right?

Class insights…

Menaka Parikh (Canada):

What did you like the most about the course?

As a front-line health care worker I have a tremendous appreciation for the clinical aspects of healthcare however, through this course, I have learned so much more about the research aspect of health. Understanding how health outcomes are measured and calculated in terms of quality of life is instrumental in knowing how health care dollars are allocated. Lastly, hearing from guest lectures and their experience from the field has been instrumental in classroom learning. I especially liked Ola Rolfson’s lecture on hip replacement surgery outcomes.

What are your thoughts regarding the computer exercises?

The data exercises were absolutely amazing. Both Kristina and her colleagues managed to teach the outcome measures theory in a sequential way and then provided guidance in applying that knowledge in the lab setting. The exercises combined theory with real world application in a seamless way. My only critique is that SPSS is an outdated software system that isn’t used in clinical practice very often, so it would have been nice to use “R” instead. I would have also like to have more lab time to practice with the data sets.

Was this course what you expected?

I really didn’t know what to expect with this course so in that way I was pleasantly surprised by the course content. Outcome measures research is a completely new concept for me (I have used various outcome measurement tools in clinical practice however, I have never understood how the tools were developed) so this was new information to me. I think we could have possibly shortened the duration of the course by 1 week or perhaps added more lab time to fill up the days.

Kyaw Htun Naing (Myanmar):

What did you like the most about the course?

What I liked the most about the course was the well organized and systematic structure. All the teachers knew very well how to support us to get all the knowledge, not only theoretically and also practically, related with “Health Outcomes Research” and applications of different methods of “Health Outcome Measurements” in various settings. In addition, there were many interesting lectures by external lecturers from the well-known universities across the Sweden. Because of these lectures, I had a chance to learn the real-world experiences.

What are your thoughts regarding the computer exercises?

The data exercises’ sessions were very systematic and well prepared. I didn’t have that kind of experience before this course. All the teachers were very supportive and provided enough time to each and every student to perform the data analysis competently and confidently. I learned during each session the applications of SPSS for data analysis and also interpretation of the results. These computer exercises will significantly benefit for my master thesis in last semester.

Was this course what you expected?

Yes, this course was exactly the one what I expected when I came to KI. I gained both theoretical and practical knowledge related with “Health Outcomes Research” for the first time because of the the well-organized course structure and a productive learning environment in seminars, real-world lectures and group assignments. Due to this course, I am really looking forward to learn more about the advance knowledge of health outcomes research in next semester.


Hope you enjoyed the blogpost! I also hope it reflects the great time we had during this course.

Stay tuned




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