Commentary on “Mixed-method approaches to strengthen economic evaluations in implementation research.”

Feb 15,2019 | Leila Kahwati Featured Articles

A couple of weeks ago, a health economist colleague mentioned that she was attending an Implementation Science webinar and that she was excited to learn more about how this field could intersect with her work. Thus, when I saw the article by Dopp and colleagues entitled “Mixed-method approaches to strengthen economic evaluations in implementation research” in this month’s newsletter I thought it would be of interest to my colleague, and I also thought how wonderful it is to see the diffusion of mixed methods research into economic evaluations.

The authors of this study start with an overview of traditional economic evaluation methods and discuss some of the challenges in applying these traditional methods in implementation research. For example, having to account for both the costs of the intervention and the costs of the implementation strategy as well as the ‘qualitative residual’, which is a term used to describe contexts and stakeholder perspectives within which the economic outcomes can be interpreted. Although a mixed methods approach is widely accepted as the best approach for implementation research, mixed methods have not been widely used in health or public health economic evaluations and few empirical examples exist.

The authors propose an adaptation of an existing taxonomy by Palinkas et al. for mixed methods economic evaluations and illustrate an approach using an example from a cost-effectiveness evaluation of the implementation of problematic sexual behavior-cognitive behavioral therapy that they completed. Through the example, they illustrate how mixed methods were used and how their use added to the interpretation of findings.

I encourage implementation researchers to share this article with their economist colleagues and consider a mixed methods approach in any economic evaluation components.

Read the full abstract.