BACKGROUND: Economic evaluation of health care has developed into a substantial body of work, and its contribution to medical decision making is increasingly being recognized.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to describe the characteristics and quality of health economic (including pharmacoeconomic) evaluation research studies related to Zimbabwe.
METHODS: A review of the literature was conducted to identify published health economic evaluation studies related to Zimbabwe. HEED, PubMed, MEDLINE, HealthSTAR, EconLit, and PsycINFO databases and sociological and dissertation abstracts were used to search for economic analyses. The searches used the following terms alone and in combination: costs, budgets, fee, economics, health, pharmacy, pharmacy services, medicines, drugs, health economics, cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, cost-minimization, cost utility analysis, and Zimbabwe. Only original applied economic evaluations addressing a health-related topic pertaining to Zimbabwe and published in full were included. Two reviewers independently evaluated and scored each study in the final sample using the data collection form designed for the study.
RESULTS: Fifty-nine studies were identified in the database searches, 18 of which were excluded because they were not about Zimbabwe (3 studies) or were not health related (15). Of the 41 remaining studies, 8 were excluded after further review because they were not original research, 6 because they were not economic analyses, and 1 because it was not about Zimbabwe. The final 26 studies appeared in 13 different journals (based mostly [17 (65%)] outside of Zimbabwe). The mean (SD) number of authors of each study was 3.36 (2.13); most of the authors had medical/clinical training. The number of studies peaked between 1994 and 1997. Based on a 10-point scale, with 10 indicating the highest quality, the mean (SD) quality score for all studies was 5.40 (1.56); 8 of the studies (31%) were considered to be of poor quality (score ≤4). The quality of the studies reviewed was significantly (all, P < 0.05) associated with the country in which the journal was based (non-Zimbabwe = higher), the primary health intervention (services>pharmaceutical interventions), the number of authors (more authors = higher), and year of publication (more recent = higher).
CONCLUSION: This study indicated that the use of health economic (including pharmacoeconomic) evaluation research in Zimbabwe was low, and 31 % of the studies were of poor quality. More and better quality health economic research in Zimbabwe is warranted.