Content of Health Economics Analysis Plans (HEAPs) for trial-based economic evaluations: expert Delphi consensus survey

Joanna C. Thorn, Charlotte F. Davies, Sara T. Brookes, Sian M. Noble, Melina Dritsaki, Ewan Gray, Dyfrig A. Hughes, Borislava Mihaylova, Stavros Petrou, Colin Ridyard, Tracey Sach, Edward C. F. Wilson, Sarah Wordsworth, William Hollingworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives. Health Economics Analysis Plans (HEAPs) currently lack consistency, with uncertainty surrounding appropriate content. We aimed to develop a list of essential items that should be included in HEAPs for economic evaluations conducted alongside randomised trials. Methods. A list of potential items for inclusion was developed by examining existing HEAPs. An electronic Delphi survey was conducted among professional health economists. Respondents were asked to rate potential items from 1 (least) to 9 (most) important, suggest additional items, and comment on proposed items (round 1). A second survey (round 2) was emailed to participants, including the participant’s own scores from round 1 along with summary results from the whole panel; participants were asked to re-rate each item. Consensus criteria for inclusion in the final list were predefined as >70% of participants rating an item 7-9 and <15% rating it 1-3 after round 2. A final item selection meeting was held to scrutinise the results and adjudicate on items lacking consensus.Results. 62 participants completed round 1 of the survey. The initial list included 72 potential items; all 72 were carried forward to round 2, and no new items were added. 48 round 1 respondents (77.4%) completed round 2 and reached consensus on 53 items. At the final meeting, the expert panel (n=9) agreed that 58 items should be included in the essential list, moved 9 items to an optional list, and dropped 5 items. Conclusions. Via expert consensus opinion, this study identified 58 items that are considered essential in a HEAP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-547
Number of pages9
JournalValue in Health
Issue number4
Early online date28 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • Health Economic Analysis Plans
  • economic evaluation

Cite this