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This is a three-day course for health economists and health professionals with some knowledge of health economics who wish to learn about the methodology of cost-effectiveness analysis as applied in health care.

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What the course is about

Analytic methods of economic evaluation are applied in health care to address the fundamental economic question of how to allocate scarce health care resources to maximise health gain. This course teaches the latest methods for performing a cost-effectiveness analysis of a healthcare intervention.


Standards of best practice in economic evaluation, required by health technology assessment and reimbursement agencies, and more recently by leading journals, have become more explicit and more demanding over time. The course provides the expertise to use and interpret the guidelines issued by official and professional bodies.

In addition, health economists are increasingly involved in complex studies: for example, conducting economic evaluations alongside large pragmatic trials running over a long period of time with multiple comparisons, multiple endpoints and incomplete patient specific data on resource use and quality of life.  Furthermore, even the largest and longest clinical trials do not remove the need for economic modeling, which may be required before, during, after and instead of trials.  The course provides the tools for conducting such evaluations, alongside an introduction to economic modeling.  The exercises that form part of the course enable participants to learn the techniques by direct experience.

Who the course is for

The course is designed for those who need to perform cost-effectiveness analysis in healthcare, and those who need to understand in some depth the issues that health economists face when performing these analyses, hence, researchers and decision makers from public, commercial and academic organizations concerned with healthcare resource allocation.  In the many years that the course has been running participants have come from a wide variety of organizations, and from all over the world. If you are unsure as to whether the course is suitable for you, please email and we will be happy to advise.


There are no formal prerequisites for attendance, but participants need to be familiar with Microsoft Excel, and to have some prior knowledge of the principles of economic evaluation. HERC also runs a one-day course, ‘Introduction to Health Economic Evaluation’, designed for non-economists, which some have found to be useful to attend prior to undertaking this course.

Aims of the course

•    To provide detailed study of the methods of cost-effectiveness analysis for health care interventions
•    To give participants ‘hands on’ experience through the use of computer-based exercises with real data
•    To broaden the knowledge base of researchers through the use of practical examples and problems

Course content

The course consists of six half day sessions spread over three days, starting with an introduction, then four taught sessions, followed by a final session for Q&A and completion. The four taught sessions cover the following topics:

Health outcomes
Estimating life expectancy
Life tables
Survival analysis
Quality of life measurement and valuation

Resource use and costs
Describing cost data
Testing for cost differences
Missing and censored cost data
Event Based Cost Analysis

Decision analysis and modelling
Role of modelling
Decision trees
Introducing Markov models

Reporting and presenting cost-effectiveness results
Displaying results on the CE plane
Confidence intervals for CE ratios
Cost-effectiveness acceptability curves
The net benefit approach

Course package

•    An intensive 3-day course comprising six interactive sessions, a guest lecture by an expert in the field, meals and refreshments including course dinner. An opportunity to meet with others with similar interests from a wide variety of backgrounds

•    Oxford based courses usually with residence in college. A few courses on a non-residential basis when we recommend local hotels.
•    All the teachers and tutors are drawn from the staff of HERC and have experience of conducting research projects that use the methods taught on the course. Tutors give one-to-one help with the exercises.
•    The course is thoroughly ‘hands on’. Every participant uses their own laptop for the computer-based exercises which are an integral part of the course. A laptop can be supplied at an extra charge.
•    The software packages used on the course are Microsoft Excel and Treeage Pro (decision analysis software).  Participants need to have considerable experience of using Excel to get the full benefit of the course but not of Treeage.

The following links provide basic and advanced sample Excel assessments with Excel work files that may be useful for participants to assess their own competency prior to attending the course: 

The basic assessment: 

The advanced assessment: 

If you have a more specific query or concern about how Excel is used in the course, please email and your enquiry will be directed to one of the course tutors.

•    Applied Methods of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health Care is a handbook written by members of HERC and associates, published by Oxford University Press in October 2010.  The handbook has been developed out of the course, and covers the same content with some additional material. Course participants will receive a complimentary copy, and the opportunity to buy other handbooks in the series at a discounted price. More details of the handbook series here.
•    Hardcopy course materials comprising teaching slides and notes, exercises and step-by-step guides, and references for further reading.