Objectives: Health economic models are developed as part of the health technology assessment process to determine whether health interventions represent good value for money. These models are often used to directly inform healthcare decision making and policy. The information needs for the model require the use of other types of information beyond clinical effectiveness evidence to populate the model's parameters. The purpose of this research study was to explore issues concerned with the identification and use of information for the development of such models.
Methods: Three focus groups were held in February 2011 at the University of Sheffield with thirteen UK HTA experts. Attendees included health economic modelers, information specialists and systematic reviewers. Qualitative framework analysis was used to analyze the focus group data.
Results: Six key themes, with related sub-themes, were identified dealing with decisions and judgments; searching methods; selection and rapid review of evidence; team communication; modeler experience and clinical input and reporting methods. There was considerable overlap between themes.
Conclusions: Key issues raised by the respondents included the need for effective communication and teamwork throughout the model development process, the importance of using clinical experts as well as the need for transparent reporting of methods and decisions.