Research aims to improve how child health is measured and valued

Caring Futures Institute research lead and health economist Professor Julie Ratcliffe is among a national research team awarded a $2.35 million grant to improve the way child health is measured and valued.

Professor Ratcliffe and Christine Mpundu-Kaambwa from the Health and Social Care Economics Group in the Caring Futures Institute join a team comprising Professor Nancy Devlin together with Associate Professor Kim Dalziel and colleagues from the University of Technology Sydney, Flinders, Curtin University, The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash University.

Professor Julie Ratcliffe

They will aim to strengthen tools and build evidence on health and quality of life outcomes in paediatric populations for use in health system decision making. This three-year project will run June 2020 to mid-2023 and is one of six projects awarded funding through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Decisions about health care rely on evidence that treatments work and are value for money. This is typically assessed by the improvements in quality adjusted life years (QALYs) from treatment, and its cost effectiveness.

Methods usually used to measure and value the health-related quality of life of adults do not work well in valuing the health-related quality of life in children and preclude asking children for their views.

Christine Mpundu-Kaambwa

Professor Ratcliffe says the research will address these issues when measuring and valuing child health for use in assessing both effectiveness and cost effectiveness.

“Our research program will substantially improve the evidence base on child health,” she says.

“It will also support health system decision-makers in ensuring that resources are allocated in the most cost effective ways to maximise health and quality of life outcomes for children with a variety of health conditions.”

The research team includes Nancy Devlin, Richard Norman (Curtin), Rosalie Viney (UTS), Julie Ratcliffe (Flinders), Kim Dalziel, Brendan Mulhern (UTS), Harriet Hiscock (MCRI), Deborah Street (UTS), and Gang Chen (Monash).

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