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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Health Economics Logo

Health Economics Information Resources: A Self-Study Course

Module 4: An Introduction to the Principles of Critical Appraisal of Health Economic Evaluation Studies

Why should we appraise health economic evaluations?

We know from Module 3 that the quality of published health economic evaluations is variable and that health care decision makers need to be sure that the evidence on efficiency is reliable and can be applied to their own situations.

We also learned that the reliability of study findings must be checked with regard to:
  • the quality of the methodology
  • the accuracy of the reporting - is the analysis really a FULL economic evaluation?
  • whether the results of an economic evaluation can be generalized to another setting

The process for critically appraising health economic evaluation studies

Critical appraisal of studies can be assisted by referral to a standard checklist. Fortunately, there are a number of checklists available that offer guidance for the conduct, reporting and appraisal of health economic evaluations. (see also Module 3)

For the purposes of this online course, the authors have selected the Drummond 10-point checklist¶ upon which the British Medical Journal guidelines† for peer-review and reporting of economic studies are based.

¶ Drummond M et al. Methods for the economic evaluation of health care programmes. 2nd ed. Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1997
† Drummond M, Jefferson T. Guidelines for authors and peer-reviewers of economic submissions to the BMJ. BMJ 1996;313:275-283


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