Background: There is wide recognition that pragmatic randomised trials are the best vehicle for economic evaluation. This is because trials provide the best chance of ensuring internal validity, not least through the rigorous prospective collection of patient-specific data. Furthermore the marginal cost of collecting economic data alongside clinical data is typically modest. UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) does not require a standard operating procedure (SOP) for economic evaluation as a prerequisite for trial unit registration. We judge that such a SOP facilitates the integration of health economics into trials.
Methods: A collaboration between health economists and trialists at Bangor University led to the development of a SOP for economic evaluation alongside pragmatic trials, in addition to the twenty SOPs required by UKCRC for registration, which include randomisation, data management and statistical analysis.
Results: Our recent telephone survey suggests that no other UKCRC-registered trials unit currently has an economic SOP.
Conclusion: We argue that UKCRC should require, from all Trials Units undertaking economic evaluation and seeking registration or re-registration, a SOP for economic evaluation as one of their portfolio of supporting SOPs.