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Health Econ. 1995 Jul-Aug;4(4):265-71.

Costing neonatal care alongside the Collaborative ECMO trial: how much primary research is required?

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National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, UK.


Researchers working on economic evaluations alongside trials have to balance minimising data collection with maximising the ability to measure differences in costs. Using existing data sources may keep the costs of research down, but these data may not be entirely appropriate to the evaluation question. When evaluating technologies in intensive care it is particularly important to be able to classify patients correctly by their resource requirements especially when those requirements vary considerably from day to day. This paper describes and justifies methods for costing the care provided for babies in (one arm of) an on-going multi-centre trial, the Collaborative ECMO trial. This trial is evaluating alternative policies of life support for mature (full term) newborn babies with severe respiratory failure. The most reliable cost information on neonatal intensive care is available from a study, conducted independently from the trial, which has used simple cost apportionment on a large sample of units. By drawing on clinical opinion and carrying out a case note exercise we assessed whether this available information was appropriate to estimate 'baseline' costs for the control group during their initial 'acute' phase of illness. We concluded that the available cost estimates would need to be weighted to reflect the additional costs of drugs and investigations for this group of babies during the acute phase. Multidisciplinary collaboration on trials can help economists and other researchers to balance the requirement for simple cost measurements with more detailed primary research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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