Background: Metrics to measure the burden of surgical conditions, such as disability weights (DWs), are poorly defined, particularly for pediatric conditions. To summarize the literature on DWs of children's surgical conditions, we performed a systematic review of disability weights of pediatric surgical conditions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Method: For this systematic review, we searched MEDLINE for pediatric surgery cost-effectiveness studies in LMICs, published between January 1, 1996, and April 1, 2017. We also included DWs found in the Global Burden of Disease studies, bibliographies of studies identified in PubMed, or through expert opinion of authors (ES and HR).
Results: Out of 1427 publications, 199 were selected for full-text analysis, and 30 met all eligibility criteria. We identified 194 discrete DWs published for 66 different pediatric surgical conditions. The DWs were primarily derived from the Global Burden of Disease studies (72%). Of the 194 conditions with reported DWs, only 12 reflected pre-surgical severity, and 12 included postsurgical severity. The methodological quality of included studies and DWs for specific conditions varied greatly.
Interpretation: It is essential to accurately measure the burden, cost-effectiveness, and impact of pediatric surgical disease in order to make informed policy decisions. Our results indicate that the existing DWs are inadequate to accurately quantify the burden of pediatric surgical conditions. A wider set of DWs for pediatric surgical conditions needs to be developed, taking into account factors specific to the range and severity of surgical conditions.