Structural and parameter uncertainty in Bayesian cost-effectiveness models

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Abstract:

Summary. 

Health economic decision models are subject to various forms of uncertainty, including uncertainty about the parameters of the model and about the model structure. These uncertainties can be handled within a Bayesian framework, which also allows evidence from previous studies to be combined with the data. As an example, we consider a Markov model for assessing the cost-effectiveness of implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Using Markov chain Monte Carlo posterior simulation, uncertainty about the parameters of the model is formally incorporated in the estimates of expected cost and effectiveness. We extend these methods to include uncertainty about the choice between plausible model structures. This is accounted for by averaging the posterior distributions from the competing models using weights that are derived from the pseudo-marginal-likelihood and the deviance information criterion, which are measures of expected predictive utility. We also show how these cost-effectiveness calculations can be performed efficiently in the widely used software WinBUGS.

Keywords: Bayesian model comparison; Health economics; Markov chain Monte Carlo methods; Model averaging; Model uncertainty

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9876.2009.00684.x

Affiliations: Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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