When Science Gets in the Way of Policy: Economic Evaluation of Health Care

By Stephen Birch and Amiram Gafni.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Health care decision-makers are responsible for making the best use of available health care resources. Economic evaluation is concerned with ensuring that the value of what is gained by an activity outweighs the value of what is sacrificed and hence provides a scientific basis for determining whether a particular health care programme represents an efficient use of health care resources. We show how the application of economic evaluation in the field of health economics has strayed from the scientific basis of the economics approach. We analyse the implications of this divergence from science for health care systems and present an alternative approach aimed at restoring a scientific basis for health care decision-making.

Keywords: Science, Economics, Health Care

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.65-75. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 271.867KB).

Dr Stephen Birch

Professor, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Birch is Professor in The Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis at McMaster University in Canada and Chair in Health Economics at the University of Manchester. He holds honorary or visiting appointments at universities in Australia, South Africa and Sweden. He is senior scientist at the WHO Collaborating Centre on Health Workforce Planning at Dalhousie University, Canada and a member of the UK Department of Health’s Centre for Workforce Intelligence. He has served as a consultant with WHO and the World Bank as well as many national and provincial health departments on health workforce planning. His main research interests are in the economics of health care systems with particular emphasis on equity, resource allocation and alternative delivery models. He has over 200 publications in peer reviewed journals and served for 15 years as Senior Editor for Social Science and Medicine. He has served on various public boards including the Local Health Integration Network and the District Health Council in Hamilton, Ontario, the Health Professions Regulatory Council of Ontario and the Community Health Council for York District Health Authority.

Dr Amiram Gafni

Professor, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Gafni is a Professor in The Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis at McMaster University, Canada.