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Economic evidence for the prevention and treatment of atopic eczema

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Article first published online: 01 Oct 2019
DOI: 10.1111/bjd.18391

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Summary

Atopic eczema, often called eczema, causes red and itchy skin and can affect people’s quality of life. In the UK, one in five children has eczema. As eczema is so common, it might cost a lot for the NHS and the families of affected people. Globally, health care systems don’t have enough resources (e.g. money or staff) to provide treatment for all health problems. Because of this, we need economic evidence to help decide how we should use resources, to get the best possible benefits for people for the money we spend on healthcare. This study aims to teach dermatologists about the different economic methods used in medical research, using eczema as an example. A systematic review (a high quality way of reviewing published studies) identified and looked at the quality of previously published economic evidence studies on eczema. Using these studies, the different methods, along with when they should be used, were described. The review found that the number of economic studies available was small compared to the number of clinical studies published each year, with a limited number of and range of different interventions or ways to treat eczema. The most commonly studied treatment was calcineurin inhibitor ointments, followed by infant formula (intended to prevent eczema from developing). To be able to advise on how best to allocate resources, economic evidence needs to look at both the costs and outcomes (results) of two or more treatments. Less than half of the studies found in the review did this. Most studies looked at either costs or outcomes but not both, and so only gave partial evidence. Therefore, more economic research is needed.

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