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Health care resources are scarce and yet the demand for them continues to grow. Decisions must be taken about how best to deploy resources within the health care sector. The health economist argues that choices between competing health care interventions should be made on the grounds of economic efficiency or cost-effectiveness i.e. interventions that produce the greatest health benefit from the finite resources available should be chosen. To facilitate such decision-making, it is necessary to have information on the resource use inputs (or costs) and the benefits (or health outcomes) associated with the health care interventions we wish to choose between. Economic evaluation (which is becoming increasingly common in the health care setting) provides a vehicle for obtaining and synthesizing this information. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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