Objectives: Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is defined as a policy research approach that examines the short- and long-term social consequences of the application or use of technology. Internationally different institutions have translated this definition to local contexts. In Denmark, HTA is comprehensive with focus on four aspects of the problem in question (technology [clinical evidence], economy, patient, and organization). The objective of this study is to study how the application of HTA differs across leading countries and to study the extent to which Danish HTA reports differ from foreign HTAs.
Methods: A sample of 433 HTA reports published in the period 1989–2002 by eleven leading institutions or agencies in Denmark and eight other countries were reviewed. We looked at the characteristics of the HTA with respect to focus on the four main aspects and the manner in which each aspect has been approached.
Results: The study shows health technology procedures to be the most common type of health technology assessed in HTAs and literature review to be the most often used method of analysis. Policy recommendations are only present in approximately half of the HTA reports.
Conclusions: In the HTAs one generally sees a great focus on the clinical aspect of health technologies, leaving the economic, the patient-related, and the organizational aspect much more unanalyzed. The Danish HTAs generally have a wider scope than HTAs produced in other countries and tend to focus more frequently on patient-related and organizational dimensions.