Childhood illness can impose significant costs and health strains on family members, but these are not routinely captured by pediatric economic evaluations. This review investigated how family “spillover effects” related to costs and health outcomes are considered in pediatric cost-utility analyses (CUAs).
We reviewed pediatric CUAs published between 2000 and 2015 using the Tufts Medical Center Cost-effectiveness Analysis (CEA) Registry and the Pediatric Economic Database Evaluation (PEDE) Registry. We selected studies conducted from the societal perspective and included in both registries. We investigated how frequently family spillover was incorporated into analyses, and how the inclusion of spillover health effects and costs changed CUA results.
We found 142 pediatric CUAs meeting inclusion criteria. Of those, 105 (72%) considered either family spillover costs (n = 98 time costs, n = 33 out-of-pocket costs, n = 2 caregiver healthcare costs) or health outcomes (n = 15). Twenty-four studies included 43 pairs of incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) with and without spillover. In 19 pairs of ICERs, adding spillover changed the ICER enough to cross a common cost-effectiveness threshold (i.e., $50,000/QALY, $100,000/QALY, $150,000/QALY; values are in 2016 US$). Incorporating spillover generally made interventions more cost-effective (n = 18; 42%), or did not change CUA results enough to cross a threshold (n = 24; 56%). Including family spillover reduced ICERs by 31% ($40,000/QALY) on average.
Most pediatric CUAs conducted from a societal perspective include family costs but fewer include family health effects. Inclusion of family spillover effects tends to make CUA results more favorable. Future pediatric CUAs should aim to more fully incorporate the family burden of illness.