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01.12.2014 | Ausgabe 6/2014

Prevention Science 6/2014

Standardizing Economic Analysis in Prevention will Require Substantial Effort

Prevention Science > Ausgabe 6/2014
Max Guyll


It is exceedingly difficult to compare results of economic analyses across studies due to variations in assumptions, methodology, and outcome measures, a fact which surely decreases the impact and usefulness of prevention-related economic research. Therefore, Crowley et al. (Prevention Science, 2013) are precisely correct in their call for increased standardization and have usefully highlighted the issues that must be addressed. However, having made the need clear, the questions become what form the solution should take, and how should it be implemented. The present discussion outlines the rudiments of a comprehensive framework for promoting standardized methodology in the estimation of economic outcomes, as encouraged by Crowley et al. In short, a single, standard, reference case approach should be clearly articulated, and all economic research should be encouraged to apply that standard approach, with results from compliant analyses being reported in a central archive. Properly done, the process would increase the ability of those without specialized training to contribute to the body of economic research pertaining to prevention, and the most difficult tasks of predicting and monetizing distal outcomes would be readily completed through predetermined models. These recommendations might be viewed as somewhat forcible, insomuch as they advocate for prescribing the details of a standard methodology and establishing a means of verifying compliance. However, it is unclear that the best practices proposed by Crowley et al. will be widely adopted in the absence of a strong and determined approach.

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