Table 1

Three forms of full economic evaluations

Cost-benefit Analysis (CBA)

Cost-effectiveness Analysis (CEA)

Cost-utility Analysis (CUA)

Number of Health Outcomes

Multiple outcomes

One outcome

Multiple outcomes

Unit of Health Outcomes

Summary measure in monetary units (eg, US dollars)

Natural units (eg, reduction in number of hot flashes)

Summary measure in quality of life units (eg, quality-adjusted life-years, QALY)


Net benefits

(B1 + B2 - C1 - C2)

Cost-effectiveness ratio*

(C1 - C2) /(E1 - E2)

Cost-utility ratio*

(C1 - C2) /(QALY1 - QALY2)

* Results are calculated when both the costs and the effects (health outcomes) of one therapy are higher than those of another. When the costs are lower and the effects are higher for one therapy, it is said to dominate the alternative (and the alternative is said to be dominated) and no ratio is presented. C1 = total costs of alternative 1; C2 = total costs of alternative 2; B1 = monetary value of health outcomes of alternative 1; B2 = monetary value of health outcomes of alternative 2; E1 = health effects of alternative 1; E2 = health effects of alternative 2; QALY1 = quality-adjusted life-years of alternative 1; QALY2 = quality-adjusted life-years of alternative 2.

Herman et al. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2005 5:11   doi:10.1186/1472-6882-5-11

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