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Cost data in implementation science: categories and approaches to costing.
Gold HT, McDermott C, Hoomans T, Wagner TH. Cost data in implementation science: categories and approaches to costing. Implementation science : IS. 2022 Jan 28; 17(1):11.
A lack of cost information has been cited as a barrier to implementation and a limitation of implementation research. This paper explains how implementation researchers might optimize their measurement and inclusion of costs, building on traditional economic evaluations comparing costs and effectiveness of health interventions. The objective of all economic evaluation is to inform decision-making for resource allocation and to measure costs that reflect opportunity costs-the value of resource inputs in their next best alternative use, which generally vary by decision-maker perspective(s) and time horizon(s). Analyses that examine different perspectives or time horizons must consider cost estimation accuracy, because over longer time horizons, all costs are variable; however, with shorter time horizons and narrower perspectives, one must differentiate the fixed and variable costs, with fixed costs generally excluded from the evaluation. This paper defines relevant costs, identifies sources of cost data, and discusses cost relevance to potential decision-makers contemplating or implementing evidence-based interventions. Costs may come from the healthcare sector, informal healthcare sector, patient, participant or caregiver, and other sectors such as housing, criminal justice, social services, and education. Finally, we define and consider the relevance of costs by phase of implementation and time horizon, including pre-implementation and planning, implementation, intervention, downstream, and adaptation, and through replication, sustainment, de-implementation, or spread.