Using Cost Effectiveness Analysis; a Beginners Guide

Claire Hulme

Abstract


Objective - To describe the key elements of cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) and demonstrate how such analysis may be used in the library environment.


Methods - The paper uses a step by step approach to walk the (non-economist) reader through the basics of conducting a cost effectiveness study. The key elements of a CEA are outlined using examples that illustrate how the analysis may be carried out in the library sector. A case study of a CEA in a hospital library is presented. The case study compares two library services, mediated searching and information skills training, to illustrate the application of CEA and highlight some of its limitations.

Results - CEA is a comparative analysis; its key elements include a study question that includes both costs and effectiveness; justification of the perspective the study; evidence of the effectiveness; comprehensive identification of all relevant costs and appropriate measurement of costs and effectiveness.

Conclusions - CEA enables comparison of services or interventions in terms of their costs and how effective they are. The results can be used to aid decision-making about service provision.


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