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Am Heart J. 2018 Oct;204:17-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2018.06.013. Epub 2018 Jul 11.

Quality of health economic evaluations for the ACC/AHA stable ischemic heart disease practice guideline: A systematic review.

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Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY.
Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.
Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. Electronic address:



The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) recently published a rigorous framework to guide integration of economic data into clinical guidelines. We assessed the quality of economic evaluations in a major ACC/AHA clinical guidance report.


We systematically identified cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs) of RCTs cited in the ACC/AHA 2012 Guideline for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients with Stable Ischemic Heart Disease. We extracted: (1) study identifiers; (2) parent RCT information; (3) economic analysis characteristics; and (4) study quality using the Quality of Health Economic Studies instrument (QHES).


Quality scores were categorized as high (≥75 points) or low (<75 points). Of 1,266 citations in the guideline, 219 were RCTs associated with 77 CEAs. Mean quality score was 81 (out of 100) and improved over time, though 29.9% of studies were low-quality. Cost-per-QALY was the most commonly reported primary outcome (39.0%). Low-quality studies were less likely to report study perspective, use appropriate time horizons, or address statistical and clinical uncertainty. Funding was overwhelmingly private (83%). A detailed methodological assessment of high-quality studies revealed domains of additional methodological issues not identified by the QHES.


Economic evaluations of RCTs in the 2012 ACC/AHA ischemic heart disease guideline largely had high QHES scores but methodological issues existed among "high-quality" studies. Because the ACC/AHA has generally been more systematic in its integration of scientific evidence compared to other professional societies, it is likely that most societies will need to proceed more cautiously in their integration of economic evidence.

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