Health Professionals: How Do They Assess New Medicines?
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Objective: To identify the types of information used by health professionals when assessing a new medicine, and to discover whether measures of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness are understood and used.
Method: A cross-sectional survey of 56 health professionals was undertaken in a tertiary hospital in New Zealand. Respondents were consultants, registrars, house-surgeons, pharmacists, and specialist nurses
Main outcome measures: Health professionals’ opinions on clinical and cost information required for assessing a new medicine; their ability to calculate measures of risk; and their ability to define clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and types of economic analysis.
Results: Thirty-four percent of respondents considered journals and research to be the most accurate sources of information when assessing a new medicine. Efficacy, safety, contraindications and side-effects were the most important information sought. In total, 93% gave an acceptable definition of clinical effectiveness, and 38% of cost-effectiveness. The majority of each profession (except specialist nurses) could calculate relative risk reduction (RRR) and absolute risk reduction (ARR) but fewer could calculate numbers needed to treat (NNT). Eighty-four percent of respondents felt that cost affected their assessment of a new medicine. Less than a quarter of respondents could define each type of economic analysis. Consultants and pharmacists appeared to have the best knowledge of economic analysis.
Conclusion: Efficacy, safety, contraindications and side-effects were the most important information sought when assessing a new medicine. Health professionals’ knowledge of clinical effectiveness was greater than their knowledge of cost-effectiveness. Consultants and pharmacists appeared to have the best knowledge of economic analysis.
KeywordsDecision making Drug New Zealand Nurse Pharmacist Pharmacoeconomics Physician Safety
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