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A Systematic and Critical Review of the Evolving Methods and Applications of Value of Information in Academia and Practice



This article provides a systematic and critical review of the evolving methods and applications of value of information (VOI) in academia and practice and discusses where future research needs to be directed.


Published VOI studies were identified by conducting a computerized search on Scopus and ISI Web of Science from 1980 until December 2011 using pre-specified search terms. Only full-text papers that outlined and discussed VOI methods for medical decision making, and studies that applied VOI and explicitly discussed the results with a view to informing healthcare decision makers, were included. The included papers were divided into methodological and applied papers, based on the aim of the study.


A total of 118 papers were included of which 50 % (n = 59) are methodological. A rapidly accumulating literature base on VOI from 1999 onwards for methodological papers and from 2005 onwards for applied papers is observed. Expected value of sample information (EVSI) is the preferred method of VOI to inform decision making regarding specific future studies, but real-life applications of EVSI remain scarce. Methodological challenges to VOI are numerous and include the high computational demands, dealing with non-linear models and interdependency between parameters, estimations of effective time horizons and patient populations, and structural uncertainties.


VOI analysis receives increasing attention in both the methodological and the applied literature bases, but challenges to applying VOI in real-life decision making remain. For many technical and methodological challenges to VOI analytic solutions have been proposed in the literature, including leaner methods for VOI. Further research should also focus on the needs of decision makers regarding VOI.

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No sources of funding were used to prepare this article. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to its content and the opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors. The authors gratefully acknowledge Prof. Dr. Maarten IJzerman for sharing his thoughtful insights regarding the role of VOI methods in academia and practice, and for facilitating the performance of this extensive review at the Department of Health Technology and Services Research, University of Twente, The Netherlands.

Author contributions

Lotte Steuten conceived and planned the review, contributed to acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data, drafted the paper, made substantive suggestions for revision, approved the final submitted version and acts as guarantor for the overall content. Gijs van de Wetering contributed to acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data, drafted the paper, made substantive suggestions for revision, and approved the final submitted version. Karin Groothuis-Oudshoorn and Valesca Retèl contributed to acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data, made substantive suggestions for revision and approved the final submitted version.

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Correspondence to Lotte Steuten.



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Steuten, L., van de Wetering, G., Groothuis-Oudshoorn, K. et al. A Systematic and Critical Review of the Evolving Methods and Applications of Value of Information in Academia and Practice. PharmacoEconomics 31, 25–48 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40273-012-0008-3

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  • Health Technology Assessment
  • Structural Uncertainty
  • Applied Paper
  • Methodological Paper
  • High Computational Demand