Economic Evaluation – Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA)

[SOURCE: Glanz A and Knapp M (2017) Understanding substantive and theoretical issues in long-term care. Glossary of key terms. From: Social Protection Investment in Long-Term Care Project, HORIZON 2020 - Grant Agreement No 649565. European Union. (The resource is accessible here)]

If the policy, practice or research question to be addressed to social investment is solely concerned with improving the wellbeing of a particular group of people – say older people with dementia – then, for an economic evaluation, information is needed on the comparative costs of the various interventions being considered, and also on the comparative outcomes, which could be measured in terms of (say) wellbeing, behaviour, cognition, independence in the activities of daily living. This type of evaluation is usually referred to as a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) in health economics, and the same label can be (and has been) used in social care contexts for more than 30 years (Knapp 1984). A CEA tells decision-makers what course of action most efficiently meets a specific set of clinical needs.

We should also note that the term ‘cost-effectiveness’ is used in health economics to describe both a specific type of economic evaluation (as here) as well as to refer generically to the group of all economic evaluations.

 Back to List of Terms

NIHR School for
Social Care Research