• Open Access

Structural and parameter uncertainty in Bayesian cost-effectiveness models


Christopher H. Jackson, Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0SR, UK.
E-mail: chris.jackson@mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk


Summary.  Health economic decision models are subject to various forms of uncertainty, including uncertainty about the parameters of the model and about the model structure. These uncertainties can be handled within a Bayesian framework, which also allows evidence from previous studies to be combined with the data. As an example, we consider a Markov model for assessing the cost-effectiveness of implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Using Markov chain Monte Carlo posterior simulation, uncertainty about the parameters of the model is formally incorporated in the estimates of expected cost and effectiveness. We extend these methods to include uncertainty about the choice between plausible model structures. This is accounted for by averaging the posterior distributions from the competing models using weights that are derived from the pseudo-marginal-likelihood and the deviance information criterion, which are measures of expected predictive utility. We also show how these cost-effectiveness calculations can be performed efficiently in the widely used software WinBUGS.