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Keywords:

  • Economics;
  • evidence synthesis;
  • systematic review;
  • decision making;
  • public policy

Abstract

Systematic reviews and syntheses of evidence are increasingly used to inform public policy decisions. Growing budgetary pressures mean that decision makers often need to consider evidence on the costs and efficiency of alternatives as well as their effects. There are a number of methodological challenges in the identification, appraisal, synthesis, interpretation and use of economic evidence. This article draws on a recently published edited volume to review the latest developments, proposals and controversies in these aspects of economic evidence synthesis methodology. It focuses on two broad classes of approach: systematic review to summarize and compare the findings of existing economic analyses and synthesis of new economic results using decision models. The availability and scope of economic evidence is currently limited in many fields, but improving. Increased engagement between economists, the wider evidence synthesis community, and decision makers is needed to improve both the production and use of economic evidence. Further research to improve the evidence base that underpins application of economic evidence synthesis methodology will need to embrace a broader range of methods than economic evaluation and systematic review alone. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.