Our research expertise spans the continuum of care from appraising the cost-effectiveness of health promotion programs and screening initiatives to the economic evaluation of supportive and palliative care interventions at the end of life. Our team is collaborating with Cancer Council Victoria to identify and prioritise research and interventions to improve screening, prevention or treatment of cancer, along with psychosocial and other supports for patients.
Our research informs policymakers about the value for money and equity impacts of different approaches aimed at reducing the burden of cancer and improving the quality of life of people living with cancer and their families.
Trial-based economic evaluations
We specialise in partnering with our collaborators to ensure that all trials we’re involved with have robust, practical and state of the art economic evaluation techniques embedded within the trial protocols. Our evaluations range from preventive to treatment interventions across a range of cancers, spanning the stages of the cancer care continuum (prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, end of life) and across multiple settings (such as primary care, acute-care hospitals, long-term care facilities and home-based care).
Priority setting studies and modelled economic evaluations
Our team specialises in using economic modelling techniques to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of single or multiple interventions within the one study context. Modelled economic evaluations can overcome the limitation of trial-based economic evaluations (such as a short time horizon) or can be undertaken when a trial-based economic evaluation is not feasible. Depending on the context of the research questions and purpose, we adopt different methodological frameworks like more traditional cost-utility analyses where outcomes are expressed in generic units such as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) to return on investment studies. We also specialise in large-scale priority setting studies where multiple interventions are compared within the same study context using the well-recognised Assessing Cost-Effectiveness (ACE) approach.
Inequities in cancer
Inequities exist across the cancer spectrum from prevention through to end-of-life care due to socioeconomic status, remoteness of residence and ethnicity. Our research quantifies the inequalities in the distribution of health and healthcare resources. Interventions are analysed for their cost-effectiveness and equity impacts on disadvantaged groups. Our collaborators at the University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute bring extensive experience in cancer epidemiology and biostatistics.
We undertake research dedicated to ensuring that the methods and techniques we use are appropriate and fit for purpose in the cancer context. This is essential in ensuring that cancer care is not disadvantaged because of limitations in the methods used to assess outcomes in economic evaluations. For example, we recently completed a study where the main instruments used by health economists to measure carer-related quality of life were evaluated in people providing informal care in Australia to ensure they were fit for purpose. We are also completing work investigating whether these carer-related instruments are sufficient in the palliative and end-of-life care setting.
Burden of disease studies
We evaluate the costs and disease burden, for example quality of life losses from cancer, as well as for risk factors, such as smoking. We use nationally representative databases to undertake this research (such as community-based surveys) as well as smaller, more bespoke datasets which include information on people who may not feature in larger datasets.
Brief examples of our work spanning these areas of research include:
Trial-based economic evaluations:
McCaffrey N, Flint T, Kaambwa B, Fazekas B, Rowett D, Currow DC, Hardy J, Agar M, Quinn S, Eckermann S (2019). Economic evaluation of the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of subcutaneous ketamine in the management of chronic cancer pain. Palliative Medicine;33(1):74-81. doi: 10.1177/0269216318801754.
Modelled/priority setting studies:
McCaffrey N, Carter R (2018). Economic evaluation of the Victorian Quitline service. Melbourne: Deakin University & Cancer Council Victoria.
Inequities in cancer:
Lal A, Mantilla-Herrera AM, Veerman L, Backholer K, Sacks G, Moodie M, Siahpush M, Carter R, Peeters A. (2017) Modelled health benefits of a sugar sweetened beverage tax across different socioeconomic groups in Australia: a cost-effectiveness and equity analysis. PLoS Med 14(6).
King MT, Agar M, Currow DC, Hardy J, Fazekas B, McCaffrey N (2020). Assessing quality of life in palliative care settings: head-to-head comparison of four patient-reported outcome measures (EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL, FACT-Pal, FACT-Pal-14, FACT-G7). Supportive Care in Cancer;28(1):141-53. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-04754-9.
Burden of disease studies/reviews:
Crosland P, Ananthapavan J, Davison J, Lambert M, Carter R (2019). The health burden of preventable disease in Australia: a systematic review, Australian and New Zealand journal of public health;43(2):163-70, doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12882.
Economics of cancer research stream staff