The Health Economics Resource Page

Links and hints for accessing and using resources 

in health economics. 


This page is designed for students enrolled in the MSc in Economic Evaluation in Health Care, City University, London.





                        1. Conducting a literature search

                        2. Journals you should look at frequently

                        3. Economic evaluation in priority setting: the UK and abroad

                        4. Sources of information on the UK’s health system

                        5. Sources of cost data in the UK

                        6. The measurement and valuation of health

                        7. Institutions doing health economics research

                        8. Other sites and links – and a word of caution!




1. Conducting a literature search


Journal articles on health economics topics appear in a wide range of journals – clinical, social science and ‘mainstream economics’ journals. This means that a literature search on a health economics topic requires multiple search strategies.

A good starting point is PubMed (formerly called Medline).


This will pick up papers in clinical and social sciences journals. Papers in the two principal health economics journals – Journal of Health Economics and Health Economics – are also included in PubMed. You can search by author or subject, obtain full referencing details and often short summaries (abstracts), but usually not full-text versions, for each paper.


Although a PubMed search will usually pick up most papers of relevance, some important papers in health economics are published in mainstream economics journals not covered by PubMed. For example, the seminal papers by Arrow (1963), Grossman (1972) and Sen (1980) don’t show up in PubMed because they are published in the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy and Econometrica respectively. Health Economics papers in economics journals include both theoretical and empirical work. To search the economics literature, use EconLit.


EconLit is available as an electronic resource from City University’s website. You need a username and password to access it – you will be advised of this in class, but if you forget, contact Nancy at or David at


In economic evaluation, York University’s Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) provides a database and reviews of economic evaluation papers.


This will often provide you with some initial critical commentary on economic evaluation papers you pick up from a search – but the reviews are not comprehensive and you should not assume they are an adequate substitute for reading and systematically reviewing the paper yourself!




    2. Journals you should look at frequently


Even when you are not looking for papers on a specific topic, there are a few journals you should take at least a quick look at each time a new issue is released. Principal among these are the Journal of Health Economics (JHE) and Health Economics (HE) - vital reading if you want to keep up to date with current developments in the field. If you are using a City University computer, you can access an e-version of JHE via the library’s website. HE is available in hardcopies in the library.


For UK-based health economists, another ‘must read’ is the British Medical Journal.


There is plenty of health economics material in the BMJ (although it is written for a non-economics readership) – see:


The BMJ website is great – extremely well designed and easy to navigate. You can conduct searches, and each paper comes complete with links to papers it refers to, other papers that have subsequently referred to it, and ‘quick responses’ that have been received to the paper. Best of all, most papers are available as ‘full text’ versions on this site, making it a valuable source of information.



     3. Economic evaluation in priority setting: the UK and   abroad


The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) is highly recommended for those interested in the practice of economic evaluation and its use on decision-making.


This site contains an incredible amount of material – the full reports on technical appraisals, NICE’s decisions (“Guidance”) and appeals documentation supporting each and every decision NICE makes are able to be downloaded. Beware of printing these off – some of the technical reports are lengthy. Other things worth looking on in this site include NICE’s press releases, information on the new Citizens’ Council and NICE’s submission to the 2001 Select Committee’s Inquiry on NICE. This site is testimony to NICE’s commitment to transparency in decision making.


Another valuable source of information on economic evaluation of health care in the UK is the National Collaborating Centre for Health Technology Assessment (NCCHTA). This website allows you to download publications and obtain information on current projects.



    Similar organisations in other countries include:




    4. Sources of information of the UK’s health system


The Department of Health website contains a vast amount of information on the NHS and on health policy.


This is not the easiest site to use, and sometimes it is difficult to find a specific document and unless you know exactly what you are looking for.


For details of the new fixed-price system for reimbursing providers, see:


The UK Treasury site contains documents on NHS spending – for example, the 2002 budget and the accompanying Wanless Report detail the planned massive increases in spending on the NHS and the Government’s rationale for this.


For commentaries and comment on recent policy developments in the UK health sector, see the King’s Fund – an independent health policy ‘think-tank’.


This site is not well designed for those specifically interested in health economics – but relevant material can be found under ‘the health systems team’ including ‘resource rooms’ and ‘publications’.



  5. Sources of cost data in the UK


The Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) provides unit cost data for a range of health and social care services, including costs in the NHS


Reference costs by Health Resource Groups (HRGs) are available from the Department of Health for 1998, 1999 and 2000. This site also includes costing manuals. Costs by hospital and specialty are contained in Appendix 1 of this document:


The Department of Health also provides data on the utilisation of hospital services (‘hospital episode statistics’) by HRG, downloadable as Excel or pdf files.



6. The measurement & valuation of health


The EuroQol Group website has information on the EQ-5D as an instrument for measuring and valuing health, references to papers using the EQ-5D.


For information on instruments approved by the Health Outcomes Trust (including the SF36, SF12, QWB and the SIP), see;


and for further resources on the measurement and valuation of quality of life from the Mapi Institute:


Details of the Australian WHOQoL instrument are available from:




7.  Institutions doing health economics research


Most of these sites contain information on the institution itself and its staff, which is of limited use other than curiosity! However, some – for example, HERU at Aberdeen – provide downloadable papers. The Office for Health Economics does not have downloadable papers, but does provide a searchable listing of their publications (which are very reasonably priced), and order details.


The Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) at Aberdeen University


The University of York’s Centre for Health Economics (CHE)


The London-based Office for Health Economics (OHE) site has resources and lists of its publications.


The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) site has ‘health’ as one of its research themes. Click on ‘health’ to see OECD reports on a range of health topics. There is a health economics working paper series, but this contains just 8 papers, and is largely focused on health system performance and reform in specific countries.


The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Papers series includes a selection of papers on health economics topics, all of which are available as pdf files.






  8. Other sites and links – and a word of caution!


If you type ‘health economics’ into a search engine such as Google, you will retrieve a wide range of material. But be cautioned – although some of it is extremely valuable, some is of variable quality. Be especially careful about ‘unofficial’ notes and essays you may find – these can contain mistakes and inaccuracies.


Sites worth looking at for further links include:

(search under ‘health and welfare’)


Finally, while the internet provides a vital means of identifying and accessing papers, reports and information in health economics, remember that some important contributions to the health economics literature are in books which are not available as e-versions.



This page was created by Nancy Devlin and David Parkin and was last updated on September 29th 2004

If you discover other websites you think it would be useful to include on this page, please e-mail your suggestions to Nancy ( or David (


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