Objectives: To compare methods and results among four health technology assessment organizations in different countries.
Methods: All assessment reports published between 1999 and 2001 by VATAP (United States), NICE (United Kingdom), CCOHTA (Canada), and AETS (Spain), were reviewed. Detailed information about the organization, the technology assessed, the methods used, and the recommendations made were collected. A descriptive analysis of the variables, as well as comparisons of means and proportions, was performed.
Results: Sixty-one reports assessing seventy-six technologies were published: nine (11.8 percent) by VATAP, thirty-nine (51.3 percent) by NICE, twenty (26.3 percent) by CCOHTA, and eight (10.5 percent) by AETS. A total of 64.5 percent of the technologies assessed were related to a high prevalence disease in the corresponding country. Most of the assessments addressed treatments (73.7 percent) and were mostly drugs (56.6 percent) and devices (23.7 percent). Most organizations used reviews of effectiveness and economic evaluations (64.5 percent), systematic reviews (21.1 percent), and original economic evaluations (36.7 percent). In 38.1 percent, the technology was recommended; the rest of the cases had no formal recommendations.
Conclusions: Critical issues for future technology assessment efforts are making assessment processes more consistent, transparent, and evidence-based; formalizing the inclusion of economic and ethical considerations; and making more explicit the prioritization process for selecting technologies for assessment and reassessment.