The Feasibility Study: A Health Economics Perspective


  • Brenda Gannon Current affiliation: The University of Queensland, Centre for Business and Economics of Health and Mater Research Institute, Brisbane, Queensland - Australia



Data collection, Feasibility studies, Feasibility trials, Health economics, Pilot studies


The remit of research funding bodies is to prioritise funding for research that is of relevance and of high quality. This in turn will aim to raise the quality of healthcare and benefit to patients. Researchers are faced with increasing demands and expectations from the public purse and patients. The emphasis is to improve the quality of their research, with the ultimate aim of improving population health. While guidelines on feasibility study methods concentrate heavily on trials, there appears less guidance on application of health economics within feasibility studies, yet these are a less costly way to determine first of all if a full randomised controlled trial (RCT) is feasible. A feasibility study assesses if the study can be done in a small RCT type study. Since by definition, a feasibility study does not evaluate the outcome, researchers often omit the health economics aspects but do however include statistical analysis. This leaves a gap in interpretation for policy makers and potential funders. It also means that any resulting publication does not include relevant information and therefore comparison across studies in terms of difficulty in collecting cost data is not possible. The main aim of this commentary therefore, is to demonstrate a suggested health economics analysis within a feasibility study and to recommend to researchers to include these aspects from the conception of their intervention. This paper proposes a number of points, with rationale for each point, to indicate the health economics data and the potential benefits required for coherent interpretation of the feasibility of future economic evaluations in a full trial. Economic evaluation is necessary if implementation into standard care is anticipated. Therefore, collection and summary analysis of relevant data is good practice at each point of the intervention development. Current guidelines for economic evaluation, for example, The Medical Research Guidelines in the UK, conclude by stating that ‘to address these sufficiently, it is best to involve health economists early in the planning of design of the evaluation, so that the economic evaluation is fully integrated’. I argue in this commentary that similar early involvement is critical in feasibility studies to ensure that all eventualities are considered before the main phase III/IV trial begins.


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How to Cite

Gannon, B. (2017). The Feasibility Study: A Health Economics Perspective. Global and Regional Health Technology Assessment, 4(1), 65–68.