410 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether published cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses have adhered to basic analytic principles. Design: Structured methodologic review of published articles. Study Sample: Seventy-seven articles published either from 1978 to 1980 or from 1985 to 1987 in general medical, general surgical, and medical subspecialty journals. Main Outcome Measurements: Articles were reviewed to assess the use and reporting of six fundamental principles of analysis. These principles were derived by reviewing widely cited textbooks and articles describing the methods for performing economic analyses and by selecting the methods universally recommended. Main Results: Overall performance was only fair. Three articles adhered to all six principles, and the median number of principles to which articles adhered was three. Among the problems noted were failure to make underlying assumptions explicit and, therefore, verifiable, and failure to test assumptions with sensitivity analyses. No improvement in performance was observed between 1978 and 1987. Articles in general medical journals, however, were more likely to use analytic methods appropriately than articles in the general surgical or medical subspecialty literature. Conclusions: Greater attention should be devoted to ensuring the appropriate use of analytic methods for economic analyses, and readers should make note of the methods used when interpreting the results of economic analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1992


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