Addressing efficiency: Economic evaluation and the agenda for CAM researchers
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Considerations of efficiency are increasingly part of the broad agenda for evidence-based practice in conventional medicine. The findings of applied economic evaluations are often combined with other forms of evidence to assist clinical and wider resource decisions. It follows that as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) strives for further integration into conventional health services, it might also be subjected to such scrutiny. In preparation for this, this paper provides a basic yet critical introduction to applied economic evaluation; the types of techniques used, their broad strengths and weaknesses, related ethical and moral debate and, in particular, specific issues concerning their application to CAM. Readers will decide for themselves whether they might be supportive of, or opposed to, economic evaluation and under what circumstances. Nevertheless, a wide-ranging agenda for research on economic evaluation and CAM is presented and some basic methodological and design issues--including place specificities and sensitivities--are highlighted.
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