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Assessing direct healthcare costs when restricted to self-reported data: a scoping review

  • Jabakhanji, Samira B.1
  • Sorensen, Jan1
  • Valentelyte, Gintare1
  • Burke, Lee Ann2
  • McElroy, Brendan2
  • Murphy, Aileen2
  • 1 Healthcare Outcomes Research Centre, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland,
  • 2 Cork University Business School, University College Cork,
Published Article
Health Economics Review
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Sep 16, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s13561-021-00330-2
PMID: 34529165
PMCID: PMC8444520
PubMed Central
  • Review


Background In the absence of electronic health records, analysis of direct healthcare costs often relies on resource utilisation data collected from patient-reported surveys. This scoping review explored the availability, use and methodological details of self-reported healthcare service utilisation and cost data to assess healthcare costs in Ireland. Methods Population health surveys were identified from Irish data repositories and details were collated in an inventory to inform the literature search. Irish cost studies published in peer-reviewed and grey sources from 2009 to 2019 were included if they used self-reported data on healthcare utilisation or cost. Two independent researchers extracted studies’ details and the PRISMA-ScR guidelines were used for reporting. Results In total, 27 surveys were identified containing varying details of healthcare utilisation/cost, health status, demographic characteristics and health-related risk and behaviour. Of those surveys, 21 were general population surveys and six were study-specific ad-hoc surveys. Furthermore, 14 cost studies were identified which used retrospective self-reported data on healthcare utilisation or cost from ten of the identified surveys. Nine of these cost studies used ad-hoc surveys and five used data from pre-existing population surveys. Compared to population surveys, ad-hoc surveys contained more detailed information on resource use, albeit with smaller sample sizes. Recall periods ranged from 1 week for frequently used services to 1 year for rarer service use, or longer for once-off costs. A range of perspectives (societal, healthcare and public sector) and costing approaches (bottom-up costing and a mix of top-down and bottom-up) were used. The majority of studies ( n = 11) determined unit prices using multiple sources, including national healthcare tariffs, literature and expert views. Moreover, most studies ( n = 13) reported limitations concerning data availability, risk of bias and generalisability. Various sampling, data collection and analysis strategies were employed to minimise these. Conclusion Population surveys can aid cost assessments in jurisdictions that lack electronic health records, unique patient identifiers and data interoperability. To increase utilisation, researchers wanting to conduct cost analyses need to be aware of and have access to existing data sources. Future population surveys should be designed to address reported limitations and capture comprehensive health-related, demographic and resource use data. Supplementary Information The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s13561-021-00330-2.

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