BACKGROUND: The importance of economic evaluation in decision making is growing with increasing budgetary pressures on health systems. Diverse economic evidence is available for a range of interventions across national contexts within Europe, but little attention has been given to identifying evidence gaps that, if filled, could contribute to more efficient allocation of resources. One objective of the Research Agenda for Health Economic Evaluation project is to determine the most important methodological evidence gaps for the ten highest burden conditions in the European Union (EU), and to suggest ways of filling these gaps.
METHODS: The highest burden conditions in the EU by Disability Adjusted Life Years were determined using the Global Burden of Disease study. Clinical interventions were identified for each condition based on published guidelines, and economic evaluations indexed in MEDLINE were mapped to each intervention. A panel of public health and health economics experts discussed the evidence during a workshop and identified evidence gaps.
RESULTS: The literature analysis contributed to identifying cross-cutting methodological and technical issues, which were considered by the expert panel to derive methodological research priorities.
CONCLUSIONS: The panel suggests a research agenda for health economics which incorporates the use of real-world evidence in the assessment of new and existing interventions; increased understanding of cost-effectiveness according to patient characteristics beyond the "-omics" approach to inform both investment and disinvestment decisions; methods for assessment of complex interventions; improved cross-talk between economic evaluations from health and other sectors; early health technology assessment; and standardized, transferable approaches to economic modeling.