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Cost Effectiveness of Risk Mitigation

Development of a model for determining the cost effectiveness of conservation treatments and measures.

Cost and effectiveness are the two most important factors in decision-making for the deployment of risk mitigation measures. One model for determining the cost-effectiveness of conservation treatments introduces the concept of 'quality adjusted life years' (QALY): a model for the effectiveness of treatments in health care.

Dias risicoreductie2

Finding a method to preserve the slide collection of Museum Volkenkunde as long as possible at the lowest possible costs was one of the case studies in the QALY project.

The Collection Risk Management Manual includes a simple variant for determining the cost-effectiveness of risk mitigation measures. With this, the reduction of the risk (the effectiveness) of a particular measure is set against its cost. Various measures can be compared in this way.


The QALY adjusts the prolongation of life that a treatment provides against the quality of life during that time: perfect health gives quality 1 while death gives quality 0. The quality of the collection must be defined in order to apply the QALY to collection maintenance. With a utilitarian approach this depends on usage and usefulness, which in turn depend on the significance, value and accessibility of the collection. 'Collection quality' can be expressed in a number on the basis of scores for value and accessibility.

'Life' expectancy

The number of QALYs a measure yields can be determined by combining the 'life expectancy' of a collection with the decline of its quality. Subsequently effectiveness and cost of maintenance can then be compared for the existing situation or after having taken possible measures. The QALY model was developed in collaboration with The National Archives UK in London and applied in case studies there and at the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. The model and its application in the case studies were presented at the ICOM-CC 2011 conference in Lisbon.