From impact evaluation to decision-analysis: assessing the extent and quality of evidence on ‘value for money’ in health impact evaluations in low- and middle-income countries.

Noemi Kreif, Andrew J. Mirelman, James Love-Koh, Sangjun Kim, Paul Revill, Mark Sculpher, Rodrigo Moreno-Serra, Marc Suhrcke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Health impact evaluations (HIEs) are currently the main way of assessing policy changes in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, evidence on effectiveness alone cannot reliably inform decisions over the allocation of limited resources. Health economic evaluation provides a suitable framework for ‘value for money’ assessments.

Methods: In this article we explore to what extent economic evaluations have been conducted alongside published health impact evaluations, then we assess the quality of these, using criteria from an economic evaluation reference case developed for use in LMICs.

Results: Among the 2419 HIEs stored in the International Initiative for Impact Evaluations (3ie) database, and among the 8155 studies identified by the Ovid Medline database search, only 70 studies included an economic evaluation. When measured against the quality assessment criteria, study quality showed great variation. Many studies did not fulfil the basic requirements for economic evaluation, such as stating the perspective of the budget holder, using generic health measures that can be compared across diseases, or suitably reflecting uncertainty.

Conclusions: Greater effort should be directed towards bringing the fields of impact evaluation and economic evaluation together to better inform resource allocation decisions in global health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGates Open Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2021


  • impact evaluation
  • economic evaluation
  • cost-effectiveness
  • global health
  • low- and middle-income countries

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