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Health technology assessment and public health: a commentary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 April 2004

Walter W. Holland
Affiliation:
London School of Economics & Political Science

Abstract

This article reviews the developments in HTA in four countries, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, and United Kingdom, in relation to public health. It emphasizes that the majority of assessments made are concerned with individual clinical care rather than with the optimization of health. Possible reasons for the neglect of public health issues are that these are inherently more complex than the assessment of individual procedures or drugs. They are usually multisectoral, politically charged, and often considered mundane and “common sense” and, thus, not requiring evaluation (although when evaluations are done they are often counterintuitive). Unless more emphasis is given to the development and evaluation of public health measures, it is unlikely that there will be any major advances in health status. Possible areas for future assessment should include such issues as smoking, drug and other substance misuse, nutrition, and health inequalities. However, it is unlikely that these major areas of concern will be included in the future unless the methods of choice for priorities of development and assessment are changed to include measures that improve health status rather than only clinical services.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2004 Cambridge University Press

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References

Davis P. 2002 Problems, politics and processes: Public health sciences and policy in developed countries. In: Detels R, McEwen J, Beagle Hole R, Tamaka H, eds. Oxford textbook of public health. 4th ed. vol 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 940.
House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. 1988 Priorities in medical research. London: HMSO, (HL Paper 54-I).
World Health Organization. 1946 Constitution. New York: WHO;

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