David A. Holdford PhD, FAPhA

Course Description

Outcomes research attempts to understand and explain the end results of health care interventions. The end results of health care can fall into a variety of classifications of morbidity and mortality. These outcomes may be clinical (e.g., infections), humanistic (e.g., functional status), or economic (e.g., associated costs). By linking health care to the appropriate outcomes, it is possible to value the impact of that care. Indeed, the selection and measurement of outcomes drives outcomes research.

Pharmacoeconomics is a branch of outcomes research that focuses on the impact of pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical services on outcomes. Outcomes are the Pharmaco- part of Pharmacoeconomics (i.e., without outcomes, there is no Pharmacoeconomics). Thus, it is critical to understand and use the various measures that can assess the impact of health care.

Selection of outcomes used in pharmacoeconomics depends on a many factors. These include the perspective of the decision maker, the feasibility of collecting outcomes, and the link between intermediate measures and the ultimate desired outcomes.

This module will define outcomes, classify outcomes according to different typologies, and suggest strategies for choosing outcomes for pharmacoeconomics studies. The emphasis will not be on patient related outcomes, since they will be discussed in detail in another module. Rather, this module provides a broad introductory overview of all outcomes in pharmacoeconomics studies. This module is based upon more than 10 years of experience in teaching and consulting with students and pharmacists.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the Introduction to Outcomes Research module, you will be able to:

  • Define and contrast outcomes, surrogates, and intermediate outcomes.
  • Discuss different classification systems for characterizing health outcomes.
  • Contrast the quality of outcomes collected from different sources and levels of evidence.
  • List questions to consider in choosing outcomes data for Pharmacoeconomics studies.
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