With the ongoing debate over health care reform in the United States, public health and policy makers have paid growing attention to the need for comparative effectiveness research (CER). Recent allocation of federal funds for CER represents a significant move toward increased evidence-based practice and better-informed allocation of constrained health care resources; however, there is also heated debate on how, or whether, CER may contribute to controlling national health care expenditures. Economic evaluation, in the form of cost-effectiveness or cost–benefit analysis, is often an aspect of CER studies, yet there are no recommendations or guidelines for providing clinical investigators with the necessary skills to collect, analyze, and interpret economic data from clinical trials or observational studies. With an emphasis on multidisciplinary research, the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium and institutional CTSA sites serve as an important resource for training researchers to engage in CER. In this article, the authors discuss the potential role of CTSA sites in integrating economic evaluation methods into their comparative effectiveness education goals, using the Columbia University Medical Center CTSA as an example. By allowing current and future generations of clinical investigators to become fully engaged not only in CER but also in the economic evaluations that result from such analyses, CTSA sites can help develop the necessary foundation for advancing research to guide clinical decision making and efficient use of limited resources.
Dr. Iribarne is a postdoctoral research fellow, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.
Ms. Easterwood is a first-year medical student, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York.
Dr. Russo is assistant professor, Section of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Wang is assistant professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Wang, Department of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, 600 W. 168th St., Sixth Floor, New York, NY 10032; telephone: (212) 305-7359; fax: (212) 305-3405; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published online April 20, 2011