Methodologic Quality of Cost-Effectiveness Analyses of Surgical Procedures


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Abstract

Objective:The purpose of this study was to evaluate the methodologic quality of economic analyses of surgical procedures and to compare quality across publications.Summary Background Data:With healthcare resources limited and technologies rapidly advancing across specialties, including surgery, there is increasing demand for evidence of cost-effectiveness.Methods:A MEDLINE search identified English-language articles published from 1995 to 2004 that included economic analyses of surgical procedures. Two of the authors reviewed 110 studies and scored each based on compliance with 10 methodologic criteria. Data analyses used Cohen’s kappa statistic, regression models, Mann-Whitney U tests, and Kruskal-Wallis tests.Results:The 110 articles appeared in 79 different journals, including 57 articles in 37 surgical journals. Most journals (75%) had only 1 article eligible for inclusion. The average number of criteria met was 4.1, with 10 articles meeting all 10 methodologic standards. Compliance rates for the 5 methodologic criteria most frequently neglected ranged from 34% to 45% in nonsurgical journals and 9% to 14% in surgical journals (P < 0.001).Conclusions:While methodologic guidelines for cost-effectiveness analyses have appeared in the medical literature, studies of cost-effectiveness in surgery often do not meet these criteria. As healthcare policy seeks to incorporate information from economic evaluations, it is increasingly important that surgical journals adhere to accepted guidelines and perform quality assurance on these studies. This may be aided by wider promulgation of the methodologic criteria in surgical journals or at surgical meetings.

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