Objectives: Health technology assessment (HTA) has been used as input in decision making worldwide for more than 25 years. However, no uniform definition of HTA or agreement on assessment methods exists, leaving open the question of what influences the choice of assessment methods in HTAs. The objective of this study is to analyze statistically a possible relationship between methods of assessment used in practical HTAs, type of assessed technology, type of assessors, and year of publication.
Methods: A sample of 433 HTAs published by eleven leading institutions or agencies in nine countries was reviewed and analyzed by multiple logistic regression.
Results: The study shows that outsourcing of HTA reports to external partners is associated with a higher likelihood of using assessment methods, such as meta-analysis, surveys, economic evaluations, and randomized controlled trials; and with a lower likelihood of using assessment methods, such as literature reviews and “other methods.” The year of publication was statistically related to the inclusion of economic evaluations and shows a decreasing likelihood during the year span. The type of assessed technology was related to economic evaluations with a decreasing likelihood, to surveys, and to “other methods” with a decreasing likelihood when pharmaceuticals were the assessed type of technology.
Conclusions: During the period from 1989 to 2002, no major developments in assessment methods used in practical HTAs were shown statistically in a sample of 433 HTAs worldwide. Outsourcing to external assessors has a statistically significant influence on choice of assessment methods.