Understanding economic evidence for the prevention and treatment of atopic eczema

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Background: Atopic eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, with a similar impact on health-related quality-of-life as other chronic diseases. Increasing pressures on resources within the NHS increase the importance of having good economic evidence to inform their allocation. This paper aims to educate dermatologists about economic methods with illustration to currently available economic evidence on eczema.

Methods/design: The type and role of different types of economic evidence is illustrated by evidence found in a systematic literature search conducted across 12 online databases published until 22nd May 2017. Primary empirical studies either reporting the results of a cost of illness study or evaluating the cost, utility or full economic evaluation of interventions for preventing or treating eczema were included. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for eligibility and performed data abstraction, with disagreements resolved by a third reviewer. Evidence tables of results were produced for narrative discussion. The reporting quality of economic evaluations was assessed.

Results: 78 studies (described in 80 papers) were deemed eligible. 33 (42%) were judged to be economic evaluations, 12 (15%) cost analyses, 6 (8%) utility analyses, 26 (34%) cost-of-illness studies and 1 feasibility study (1%). The calcineurin inhibitors: tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, as well as barrier creams had most economic evidence available. Partially hydrolysed infant formula was the most commonly evaluated prevention.

Conclusions: The current level of economic evidence for interventions aimed at preventing and treating eczema is limited compared to that available for clinical outcomes suggesting that greater collaboration between clinicians and economists might be beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-716
Number of pages46
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number4
Early online date28 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • economics
  • Costs
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Health related quality of life
  • Atopic eczema

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