Economic Evaluation in Global Perspective: A Bibliometric Analysis of the Recent Literature

Health Econ. 2016 Feb;25 Suppl 1(Suppl Suppl 1):9-28. doi: 10.1002/hec.3305.


We present a bibliometric analysis of recently published full economic evaluations of health interventions and reflect critically on the implications of our findings for this growing field. We created a database drawing on 14 health, economic, and/or general literature databases for articles published between 1 January 2012 and 3 May 2014 and identified 2844 economic evaluations meeting our criteria. We present findings regarding the sensitivity, specificity, and added value of searches in the different databases. We examine the distribution of publications between countries, regions, and health areas studied and compare the relative volume of research with disease burden. We analyse authors' country and institutional affiliations, journals and journal type, language, and type of economic evaluation conducted. More than 1200 economic evaluations were published annually, of which 4% addressed low-income countries, 4% lower-middle-income countries, 14% upper-middle-income countries, and 83% high-income countries. Across country income levels, 53, 54, 86, and 100% of articles, respectively, included an author based in a country within the income level studied. Biomedical journals published 74% of economic evaluations. The volume of research across health areas correlates more closely with disease burden in high-income than in low-income and middle-income countries. Our findings provide an empirical basis for further study on methods, research prioritization, and capacity development in health economic evaluation.

Keywords: bibliometrics; cost-effectiveness analysis; economic evaluation; high-income countries; low-income countries; middle-income countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Developed Countries / economics*
  • Developing Countries / economics*
  • Economics, Medical*
  • Global Health
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans