Background: There is increasing interest in estimating the broader benefits of public health interventions beyond those captured in traditional cost-utility analyses. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in principle offers a way to capture such benefits, but a wide variety of methods have been used to monetise benefits in CBAs.
Methods: To understand the implications of different CBA approaches for capturing and monetising benefits and their potential impact on public health decision-making, we conducted a CBA of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in the United Kingdom using eight methods for monetising health and economic benefits, valuing productivity loss using either (1) the human capital or (2) the friction cost method, including the value of unpaid work in (3) human capital or (4) friction cost approaches, (5) adjusting for hard-to-fill vacancies in the labour market, (6) using the value of a statistical life, (7) monetising quality-adjusted life years and (8) including both productivity losses and monetised quality-adjusted life years. A previously described transmission dynamic model was used to project the impact of vaccination on cervical cancer outcomes. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was conducted to capture uncertainty in epidemiologic and economic parameters.
Results: Total benefits of vaccination varied by more than 20-fold (£0.6-12.4 billion) across the approaches. The threshold vaccine cost (maximum vaccine cost at which HPV vaccination has a benefit-to-cost ratio above one) ranged from £69 (95% CI £56-£84) to £1417 (£1291-£1541).
Conclusions: Applying different approaches to monetise benefits in CBA can lead to widely varying outcomes on public health interventions such as vaccination. Use of CBA to inform priority setting in public health will require greater convergence around appropriate methodology to achieve consistency and comparability across different studies.
Keywords: Cost-benefit analysis; Economic evaluation; HPV; Vaccination.