Accounting for equity in cost-effectiveness analysis

A recent article by Dr Natalie Carvalho and A/Prof Kim Dalziel at the Centre for Health Policy has been published in Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation.

Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) is frequently used as an input for guiding priority setting in health. However, CEA seldom incorporates information about trade-offs between total health gains and equity impacts of interventions. This study investigates to what extent equity considerations have been taken into account in CEA in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), using rotavirus vaccination as a case study.

Equity-related indicators specific to vaccination were mapped to the Guidance on Priority Setting in Health Care (GPS-Health) checklist, resulting in 18 unique indicators, including severity of disease, age distribution of disease and age weighting, geographic and wealth based differences between groups, productivity losses and financial risk protection. Economic evaluations of rotavirus vaccine in LMICs identified via a systematic review of the literature were assessed to explore the extent to which equity was considered in the research objectives and analysis, and whether it was reflected in the evaluation results.

Overall, some articles incorporated the indicators in their model inputs (20%) while the majority (80%) presented results (costs, health outcomes, or incremental cost-effectiveness ratios) differentiated according to the indicators. Critically, less than a fifth (17%) of articles incorporating indicators did so due to an explicit study objective related to capturing equity considerations. Most indicators were increasingly incorporated over time, with a notable exception of age-weighting of DALYs.

Further details and access to the (open access) article can be found here.