Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 23rd 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.

Medical Decision Making

Volume 40, Issue 7

It could be very good timing, or it could be very bad. Any day now, a paper arguing that ‘dead’ should be excluded from health state valuation exercises will be published as an OHE Research Paper, written by me and a couple of other blog contributors (here, when it’s ready). In that paper, we write quite a bit about what George Torrance had to say on the ‘dead’ state in the 1970s, when the time trade-off appeared on the scene. Well, Torrance’s name is attached to an article in this issue of MDM on that very same topic. The authors argue that there is a previously unrecognised methodological choice when anchoring at ‘0 = dead’. They present two alternatives that they call the MAUF-priority (that’s multiattribute utility function) and the QALY-priority approaches. There’s a lot of mathematical exposition in here, so it’ll take me a few more goes to fully understand it. I just hope it hasn’t undermined our paper before we’ve even published!

This issue includes a couple of other papers for those interested in health state valuation and outcome measurement. There’s an article describing the development of a new ‘preference-based’ measure from the Neuro-QoL for people with multiple sclerosis. The result is a six-dimension measure called the NQU. Another study assesses complementarity and overlap between three carer-related preference-based measures. The authors argue that the ASCOT-Carer, Carer Experience Scale, and CarerQoL all tap into different constructs and so shouldn’t be seen as interchangable.

A few model-based analyses appear in this issue. One is a discrete event simulation in acute stroke care, highlighting the importance of geographic disparities in explaining patient outcomes. Another model tests the feasibility of including future costs and outcomes associated with dementia in a diabetes prevention programme. Finally, there’s a model used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness (or not) of personalised medicine at varying levels of implementation.

The issue also includes a couple of editorials. One is an ‘In Memoriam‘ for David Richard Rovner. The other consists of a few announcements from the incoming editor-in-chief.

Value in Health

Volume 23, Issue 11

The November issue of ViH includes a themed section on COVID-19. It’s mostly editorials and short pieces, on topics such as the role of HEOR, the distribution of treatments, and a perspective from Irish HTA. There’s a report on some work to estimate the costs associated with the fear of contagion in China and another study even tries to estimate the cost-effectiveness of (hypothetical) policy in the UK, based on the infamous Imperial model. A discrete choice experiment conducted in the US reveals that people can be grouped into four categories according to their taste for disease control. A systematic review of economic evaluations collates data on antiviral treatments used in respiratory disease outbreaks.

The issue also includes a couple of non-COVID reviews; of studies using claims data to evaluate breast cancer therapies; and of optimisation models used in the allocation of resources for HIV/AIDS.

There is, coincidentally, some continuity with the issue of MDM summarised above. The matter of ‘dead’, and states ‘worse than dead’, is addressed by a study testing a method called the “nonstopping” time trade-off. This approach tweaks the composite time trade-off approach by randomising people to either a starting point of 0 years or a starting point of 10 years, and continuing even when a respondent identifies preferential indifference, which should preclude satisficing. Results look promising, with a more pleasing (visually) distribution of elicited values. At least, that is the case for ‘better than dead’ states. Values for states ‘worse than dead’ are still wacky.

The issue also includes an article cut from the same study mentioned earlier on carer-related preference-based measures. While the MDM paper looked at constructs, the ViH paper looks at psychometric properties, with the ASCOT-Carer doing particularly well.

Elsewhere, there are articles on the cost-effectiveness of MRI in scaphoid fracture, priority setting for tuberculosis control strategies in South Africa, and reform of the Orphan Drug Act. There’s also an article providing guidance on the inclusion of future costs in economic evaluations conducted in the Netherlands.

Journal of Population Economics

Volume 34, Issue 1

Not a journal I often visit, but the latest issue includes several articles on COVID-19 that are worth a mention.

If you’re sat in your jammies while you read this at midday, you may appreciate a paper on working from home. Using data from two different Italian labour surveys, the authors estimate that an increase in WFH feasibility tends to increase income on average. But – surprise, surprise – it favours older, well-paid, well-educated men.

Everyone wants to know how to mitigate the burden of the pandemic, but just measuring the impact is a challenge. A study in this issue contributes to the endeavour by estimating a global vector autoregressive model to measure economic impacts of the pandemic. The model accounts for social connections across countries using Facebook data. This dynamic, the analysis suggests, is important in explaining both the spread of disease and the public’s perceptions of risk. With future research in mind, there’s also an article proposing a machine learning procedure to identify breaks in time series of COVID-19 cases. Its purpose is to support the identification of the effects of lockdown and other measures. Rounding out the COVID papers is a study reporting “true” mortality rates based on administrative data from Lombardia.

There are also several other health-related studies. One study looks at bargaining power within households and whether children inherit their mother’s surname. In China, at least, it seems that those children who inherit their mother’s surname tend to have better health outcomes. On a related topic, there is also a study on “female breadwinning“. Continuing with the importance of names, there is a study showing that people may be more likely to go to war, if they share a name with a war-time leader.

Elsewhere, there is a couple of articles on immigration, one finding that immigration reduces work-place accidents for Spanish natives, and another concerned with the impact of immigration on far-right politics. Finally, there is an article on the crime impact of deportations from the US, showing that Mexican municipalities with greater exposure to deportations exhibit higher rates of violent crime.


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  • Founder of the Academic Health Economists' Blog. Principal Economist at the Office of Health Economics. ORCID: 0000-0001-9470-2369

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