Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Guidelines for authors and peer reviewers of economic submissions to the BMJ

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 03 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:275
  1. M F Drummond, chair of working party (,
  2. T O Jefferson, secretary of working party ( the BMJ Economic Evaluation Working Partyb
  1. aCentre for Health Economics, University of York, York YO1 5DD
  2. bMinistry of Defence, Army Medical Directorate 5, Keogh Barracks, Ash Vale, Hampshire GU12 5RR
  1. Members of the working party are listed at the end of the paper.Correspondence to: Dr Jefferson.
  • Accepted 11 July 1996

Over the past decade interest in the economic evaluation of health care interventions has risen.1 Reviews of published studies have, however, shown gaps in the quality of work.2 3 4 5 As far back as 1974 Williams listed the essential elements of economic evaluations,6 and more recently Drummond and colleagues set out the methodological areas generally agreed among economists.7 Guidelines for economic evaluations have been promulgated and reviewed by many bodies,8 9 10 11 12 13 14 but few medical journals have explicit guidelines for peer review of economic evaluations or consistently use economist reviewers for economic papers even though they are a major publication outlet for economic evaluations.15 16 17 In January 1995 the BMJ set up a working party on economic evaluation to improve the quality of submitted and published economic articles.

It was not our intention to be unduly prescriptive or stifle innovative methods; our emphasis is on improving the clarity of economic evaluations. We also did not address those issues of conduct that have been emphasised in other guidelines.13 14 15 16 17 18

The working party's methods

The working party's objectives were to improve the quality of submitted and published economic evaluations by agreeing acceptable methods and their systematic application before, during, and after peer review. Its task was to produce: (a) guidelines for economic evaluation, together with a comprehensive supporting statement which could be easily understood by both specialist and non-specialist readers; (b) a checklist for use by referees and authors; and (c) a checklist for use by editors.

In producing the guidelines the working party has concentrated on full economic evaluations comparing two or more health care interventions and considering both costs and consequences.19 Articles sent to the BMJ and other medical journals are often more broadly based “economic …

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