To investigate whether the use of economic evaluation (EE) in healthcare decision making is influenced by the social values and institutional context in a given country.
We developed and tested a conceptual framework for the 36 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The countries were divided into two groups based on the extent of their use of EE in drug reimbursement. The key social values were efficiency, equity, and personal responsibility, measured in an international survey. Countries were classified based on their institutional context in terms of their general welfare paradigm/type of healthcare system and the administrative tradition to which they belong. We performed correlation tests and ran path analysis regression models to test our hypotheses.
EE high users included significantly more Beveridge-type systems (50% vs 31%) and fewer Bismarck-type (15% vs 56%). Napoleonic tradition countries seemed to reject personal responsibility in health (r = -0.511, P = .009), whereas Germanic tradition countries embraced it (r = 0.572, P = .003); Anglo-American tradition countries exhibited a significant association with efficiency (r = 0.444, P = .026), whereas Scandinavian tradition countries appeared to reject it as a criterion for rationing in healthcare (r = -0.454, P = .023). No significant direct association was found between social values and use of EE.
Our exploratory analysis suggests that institutional context and, indirectly, social values may play a role in shaping the use of EE in healthcare decision making. Because of the differences among countries in terms of institutional context, which may in part be influenced by social values, it is unlikely that there will ever be a single, harmonious approach to the use of EE.