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Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 9th November 2020

Every Monday our authors provide a round-up of the latest peer-reviewed journal publications. We cover all issues of major health economics journals as well as some other notable releases. If you’d like to write one of our weekly journal round-ups, get in touch.

International Journal of Health Economics and Management

Volume 20, Issue 4

The latest issue of IJHEM consists of four applied microeconometric studies. Two use data from the US, one from Japan, and one from Spain.

The first study from the US looks at the performance of not-for-profit hospitals. The researchers estimated the efficiency of 1,317 hospitals using stochastic frontier analysis and plugged this into some regression analyses for profitability. As you might expect, more efficient hospitals are more profitable. The authors conclude that not-for-profit hospitals may be incentivised to increase their efficiency. The second study from the US looks at the impact of losing health insurance due to turning 26, which is when people can ‘age out’ of dependent coverage. While the authors do observe a drop in the likelihood of having any insurance, they find little evidence of this impacting on health care use or costs.

A study from Japan investigates the impact of performance indicators. The indicators in question relate to patient satisfaction with hospital care. Using panel data, the authors demonstrate that the introduction of new disclosure rules was associated with both absolute value of information and benchmarking value of information; there was an upward shift in performance across the board, with a greater improvement observed in the poorest performers.

The study from Spain concerns the association between tobacco consumption and the business cycle, focusing on identifying the mechanism of effect and reasons for heterogeneity across regions. Using around 30 years’ worth of data for 16 regions of Spain, the authors identify a novel explanation; during economic expansion, smoking increases along with growth in GDP, while during a recession it decreases in line with unemployment increases. This goes some way to explaining geographical variation.

The European Journal of Health Economics

Volume 21, Issue 9

This issue of EJHE leads with an editorial on drug prices that does not make sense to me, as I previously discussed. So I’ll lead with the COVID-relevant research. There’s a review article on interventions used to tackle infectious disease outbreaks. The review identified 34 economic evaluations relating to various outbreaks between 2003 (SARS and H5N1) and 2014 (Ebola), most of which evaluated pharmaceuticals (mainly vaccines) and focused on high-income countries. There was a lot of variation in the costs and benefits included in the studies. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal that we can learn from this evidence base, except that researchers need to put their heads together to figure out what ought to be considered in future studies.

French GPs are the subject of a couple of studies in this issue. One article looks at the behaviour of GPs when there is a decrease in medical density in their area. The authors used a cross-sectional survey of GPs alongside historic administrative data to identify doctors who have experienced a drop. GPs in areas with lower medical density provided shorter consultations and substituted care away from that which is time-intensive. For example, they handed out more opioids for pain management. The other study of French GPs investigates the impact of multi-professional primary care groups (MPCGs). MPCGs were in part designed to attract practitioners to areas with low medical density. Using panel data, the authors show that GPs in MPCGs saw more patients and increased their income by 2.5% more than other GPs. Perhaps you’d like to pick apart the extent to which these two studies undermine one another.

Incentives for family doctors come up in another study, this time for diabetes management in Ontario. The researchers found that financial incentives were effective in increasing the provision of relevant services.

Over in the world of HTA and cost-effectiveness analysis, there is a couple of applied studies; a cost-effectiveness analysis of person-centred care in acute coronary syndrome and a budget impact analysis for multiple myeloma treatments in Germany. There’s also a well-balanced article outlining the challenge of evaluating cell and gene therapies.

There’s a couple of methodological articles on the EQ-5D. One study uses multiplicative modelling for EQ-5D data collected in Malaysia, showing that a multiplicative model seems more appropriate for time trade-off data, but no different to an additive model for visual analogue scale data. There’s also a mapping study from the EORTC QLQ-C30 to EQ-5D-5L.

Finally, this issue includes two articles that are more about labour economics than health. The first is a study on the relationship between well-being and labour market outcomes. Using household panel data from the UK, the researchers show that psychological distress (measured using the GHQ) reduces labour market participation across the board. However, of those in work, it only reduces working hours for women. The other article is about the impact of shift patterns on absenteeism within a German automobile manufacturing plant.


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