Representing uncertainty: The role of cost-effectiveness acceptability curves

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Decision-making in health care is inevitably undertaken in a context of uncertainty concerning the effectiveness and costs of health care interventions and programmes. One method that has been suggested to represent this uncertainty is the cost-effectiveness acceptability curve. This technique, which directly addresses the decision-making problem, has advantages over confidence interval estimation for incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. However, despite these advantages, cost-effectiveness acceptability curves have yet to be widely adopted within the field of economic evaluation of health care technologies. In this paper we consider the relationship between cost-effectiveness acceptability curves and decision-making in health care, suggest the introduction of a new concept more relevant to decision-making, that of the cost-effectiveness frontier, and clarify the use of these techniques when considering decisions involving multiple interventions. We hope that as a result we can encourage the greater use of these techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-787
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001


  • cost-effectiveness acceptability curves
  • cost-effectiveness acceptability frontiers
  • decision-making
  • net benefits
  • uncertainty

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