On spillovers in economic evaluations: definition, mapping review and research agenda

María J. Mendoza-Jiménez*, Job van Exel, Werner Brouwer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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An important issue in economic evaluations is determining whether all relevant impacts are considered, given the perspective chosen for the analysis. Acknowledging that patients are not isolated individuals has important implications in this context. Increasingly, the term “spillovers” is used to label consequences of health interventions on others. However, a clear definition of spillovers is lacking, and as a result, the scope of the concept remains unclear. In this study, we aim to clarify the concept of spillovers by proposing a definition applicable in health economic evaluations. To illustrate the implications of this definition, we highlight the diversity of potential spillovers through an expanded impact inventory and conduct a mapping review that outlines the evidence base for the different types of spillovers. In the context of economic evaluations of health interventions, we define spillovers as all impacts from an intervention on all parties or entities other than the users of the intervention under evaluation. This definition encompasses a broader range of potential costs and effects, beyond informal caregivers and family members. The expanded impact inventory enables a systematic approach to identifying broader impacts of health interventions. The mapping review shows that the relevance of different types of spillovers is context-specific. Some spillovers are regularly included in economic evaluations, although not always recognised as such, while others are not. A consistent use of the term “spillovers”, improved measurement of these costs and effects, and increased transparency in reporting them are still necessary. To that end, we propose a research agenda.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Economics
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2024

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© 2024, The Author(s).


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