Economic evaluation of public health interventions

CHE has played a significant role in both appraising and developing appropriate methods for the economic evaluation of public health interventions.

This includes research concerning:

  • the incorporation of equity and inequality concerns within economic evaluation
  • the choice of discount rate
  • the investment profile for interventions (i.e. the timing at which costs and benefits are realised)
  • evaluating interventions with costs and benefits falling across different sectors

The evaluation of public health interventions raises a number of potential challenges in applying standard economic evaluation methods.

Public health interventions can generate health benefits far into the future and this poses a challenge for the attribution and valuation of intervention effects. Similarly the extent by which early intervention can influence future spending, and the timing of any cost offsets, may be subject to uncertainty. 

The breadth of an intervention’s impact may extend beyond the health sector, requiring consideration of costs and benefits that fall on sectors outside of health. Even within the health care sector, the outcomes of value may extend beyond simply improving the health of individuals to improving the capability of individuals to maintain their own health, and to the improvement of health inequalities. 


Research staff involved: Richard CooksonSusan GriffinMark SculpherHelen WeatherlyGerry RichardsonLaura BojkeKarl Claxton (TEEHTA team); Marc SuhrckeAndrew Mirelman (Global Health team).

Example publications:

  • Kenkel D, Suhrcke M (2011). Economic evaluation of the social determinants of health: an overview of conceptual and practical issues. Copenhagen, World Health Organization. Download from WHO
  • Suhrcke M, Boluarte TA, Niessen L. A systematic review of economic evaluations of interventions to tackle cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income countries. BMC Public Health. 2012 -Jan 3;12:2. Download from BioMed Central