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Economic analysis of the health impacts of housing improvement studies: a systematic review
  1. Elisabeth Fenwick1,
  2. Catriona Macdonald2,
  3. Hilary Thomson2
  1. 1Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hilary Thomson, MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RZ, UK; hilary.thomson{at}


Background Economic evaluation of public policies has been advocated but rarely performed. Studies from a systematic review of the health impacts of housing improvement included data on costs and some economic analysis. Examination of these data provides an opportunity to explore the difficulties and the potential for economic evaluation of housing.

Methods Data were extracted from all studies included in the systematic review of housing improvement which had reported costs and economic analysis (n=29/45). The reported data were assessed for their suitability to economic evaluation. Where an economic analysis was reported the analysis was described according to pre-set definitions of various types of economic analysis used in the field of health economics.

Results 25 studies reported cost data on the intervention and/or benefits to the recipients. Of these, 11 studies reported data which was considered amenable to economic evaluation. A further four studies reported conducting an economic evaluation. Three of these studies presented a hybrid ‘balance sheet’ approach and indicated a net economic benefit associated with the intervention. One cost-effectiveness evaluation was identified but the data were unclearly reported; the cost-effectiveness plane suggested that the intervention was more costly and less effective than the status quo.

Conclusions Future studies planning an economic evaluation need to (i) make best use of available data and (ii) ensure that all relevant data are collected. To facilitate this, economic evaluations should be planned alongside the intervention with input from health economists from the outset of the study. When undertaken appropriately, economic evaluation provides the potential to make significant contributions to housing policy.

  • Economics
  • Housing
  • Public Health Policy
  • Social Factors In
  • Methodology

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