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Open Access Correspondence

A framework for assessing Health Economic Evaluation (HEE) quality appraisal instruments

Astrid Langer

Author Affiliations

Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management, Munich School of Management, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München, Munich, Germany

Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Centre for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany

BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:253  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-253

Published: 16 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Health economic evaluations support the health care decision-making process by providing information on costs and consequences of health interventions. The quality of such studies is assessed by health economic evaluation (HEE) quality appraisal instruments. At present, there is no instrument for measuring and improving the quality of such HEE quality appraisal instruments. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to establish a framework for assessing the quality of HEE quality appraisal instruments to support and improve their quality, and to apply this framework to those HEE quality appraisal instruments which have been subject to more scrutiny than others, in order to test the framework and to demonstrate the shortcomings of existing HEE quality appraisal instruments.

Methods

To develop the quality assessment framework for HEE quality appraisal instruments, the experiences of using appraisal tools for clinical guidelines are used. Based on a deductive iterative process, clinical guideline appraisal instruments identified through literature search are reviewed, consolidated, and adapted to produce the final quality assessment framework for HEE quality appraisal instruments.

Results

The final quality assessment framework for HEE quality appraisal instruments consists of 36 items organized within 7 dimensions, each of which captures a specific domain of quality. Applying the quality assessment framework to four existing HEE quality appraisal instruments, it is found that these four quality appraisal instruments are of variable quality.

Conclusions

The framework described in this study should be regarded as a starting point for appraising the quality of HEE quality appraisal instruments. This framework can be used by HEE quality appraisal instrument producers to support and improve the quality and acceptance of existing and future HEE quality appraisal instruments. By applying this framework, users of HEE quality appraisal instruments can become aware of methodological deficiencies inherent in existing HEE quality appraisal instruments. These shortcomings of existing HEE quality appraisal instruments are illustrated by the pilot test.