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State of health economic evaluation research in Saudi Arabia: a review

Authors Al-Aqeel S

Received 21 February 2012

Accepted for publication 16 April 2012

Published 5 July 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 177—184

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CEOR.S31087

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Sinaa A Al-Aqeel

Clinical Pharmacy Department, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Background: If evaluation of economic evidence is to be used increasingly in Saudi Arabia, a review of the published literature would be useful to inform policy decision-makers of the current state of research and plan future research agendas. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical review of the state of health economic evaluation research within the Saudi context with regard to the number, characteristics, and quality of published articles.
Methods: A literature search was conducted on May 8, 2011 to identify health economic articles pertaining to Saudi Arabia in the PubMed, Embase, and EconLit databases, using the following terms alone or in combination: “cost*”, “economics”, “health economics”, “cost-effectiveness”, “cost-benefit”, “cost minimization”, “cost utility analysis”, and “Saudi”. Reference lists of the articles identified were also searched for further articles. The tables of contents of the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal and the Saudi Medical Journal were reviewed for the previous 5 years.
Results: The search identified 535 citations. Based on a reading of abstracts and titles, 477 papers were excluded. Upon reviewing the full text of the remaining 58 papers, 43 were excluded. Fifteen papers were included. Ten were categorized as full economic evaluations and five as partial economic evaluations. These articles were published between 1997 and 2010. The majority of the studies identified did not clearly state the perspective of their evaluation. There are many concerns about the methods used to collect outcome and costs data. Only one study used some sort of sensitivity analysis to assess the effects of uncertainty on the robustness of its conclusions.
Conclusion: This review highlights major flaws in the design, analysis, and reporting of the identified economic analyses. Such deficiencies mean that the local economic evidence available to decision-makers is not very useful. Thus, building research capability in health economics is warranted.

Keywords: cost-effective analysis, pharmacoeconomics, economic evaluation, quality assessment, Saudi Arabia

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