Objectives: This paper describes the methods used in the Guide to Community Preventive Services: Systematic Reviews and Evidence-Based Recommendations (the Guide) for conducting systematic reviews of economic evaluations across community health-promotion and disease-prevention interventions. The lack of standardized methods to improve the comparability of results from economic evaluations has hampered the use of data on costs and financial benefits in evidence-based reviews of effectiveness. The methods and instruments developed for the Guide provide an explicit and systematic approach for abstracting economic evaluation data and increase the usefulness of economic information for policy making in health care and public health.
Methods: The following steps were taken for systematic reviews of economic evaluations: (1) systematic searches were conducted; (2) studies using economic analytic methods, such as cost analysis or cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit or cost-utility analysis, were selected according to explicit inclusion criteria; (3) economic data were abstracted and adjusted using a standardized abstraction form; and (4) adjusted summary measures were listed in summary tables.
Results: These methods were used in a review of 10 interventions designed to improve vaccination coverage in children, adolescents and adults. Ten average costs and 14 cost-effectiveness ratios were abstracted or calculated from data reported in 24 studies and expressed in 1997 USD. The types of costs included in the analysis and intervention definitions varied extensively. Gaps in data were found for many interventions.