Measuring Costs in Multisite Randomized Controlled Trials: Lessons From the VA Cooperative Studies Program

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Abstract

Objectives.

The interest in the economic impact of new health care interventions has increased dramatically over recent years; however, the results can be highly variable depending upon the economic assumptions made and the approaches taken in collecting the data and in conducting the analyses. This paper describes experiences from the VA Cooperative Studies Program in measuring health care utilization and costs for studies that evaluate clinical interventions.

Methods.

Experiences from two multisite randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are highlighted to illustrate strategies used to measure costs by directly measuring health care utilization and economic data within the context of the trials.

Conclusions.

Despite the substantial resources required to gather evidence about the cost of care for health care innovations, future VA multisite studies should include accepted health economic approaches to make important contributions to health planning and health policy within and outside the VA health care system.

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