Purpose: To explicate (a) the types of economic analyses available to nurses, (b) the measurement of costs in different types of economic evaluations, (c) recommendations for standardization, and (d) the assessment of economic evaluations for evidence-based practice.
Methods: Five types of economic analyses are reviewed. Recommendations for standardization of cost-effectiveness analyses are included as well as a worksheet for use in critiquing economic evaluations for validity and applicability to clinical settings.
Findings: Limited knowledge and a lack of consistent approaches to economic analyses are evident in the nursing and health care literature. However, nurses have not contributed to the conduct of rigorous economic evaluations or research to the extent found in other health care disciplines.
Conclusions: Basing nursing practice on the best available evidence is now the expected standard of care. Applying economic evidence to practice requires understanding the methods used to conduct economic evaluations and to analyze the rigor of such evaluations.