Bayesian estimation of cost-effectiveness ratios from clinical trials

Daniel F. Heitjan, Alan J. Moskowitz, William Whang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Estimation of the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) is difficult for several reasons: treatments that decrease both cost and effectiveness and treatments that increase both cost and effectiveness can yield identical values of the ICER; the ICER is a discontinuous function of the mean difference in effectiveness; and the standard estimate of the ICER is a ratio. To address these difficulties, we have developed a Bayesian methodology that involves computing posterior probabilities for the four quadrants and separate interval estimates of ICER for the quadrants of interest. We compute these quantities by simulating draws from the posterior distribution of the cost and effectiveness parameters and tabulating the appropriate posterior probabilities and quantiles. We demonstrate the method by re-analysing three previously published clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1999


  • Bayesian inference
  • Clinical trials
  • Confidence intervals
  • Cost-effectiveness ratios
  • Net health benefit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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