Objectives: This study was undertaken to appraise the quality of published pediatric economic evaluations.
Methods: Two independent reviewers appraised 149 randomly selected pediatric health economic studies. Data were collected from full economic evaluations published between 1980 and 1999. Economic evaluations of interventions, programs, and services aimed at neonates to adolescents were included. The Pediatric Quality Appraisal Questionnaire (PQAQ) was used for appraisal. The PQAQ is a 57-item instrument with 13 domains scored from 0 to 1 and one descriptive domain, each corresponding to a key aspect of health economic methodology. The primary outcome was the score for each domain. Additional analyses examined the global rating, the distribution of analytic technique, and the association between domain score and analytic technique.
Results: A total of 38 percent of publications were very good to excellent, whereas 43 percent were fair or worse. Although the Discounting, Target Population, Economic Evaluation, Conclusions, and Comparators domains exhibited good quality (0.74 to 0.78), the papers were of poor quality for Conflict of Interest, Incremental Analysis, and Perspective (0.32 to 0.39). Analytic technique was a significant predictor of quality for study design-related domains, with cost-utility analyses demonstrating the highest domain scores.
Conclusions: Domains closely related to the elements of economic evaluation demonstrated medium to high quality. However, domains related to analysis fared poorly and are worthy of further methodological research to improve the use of health economic methods in children.