A couple of weeks ago, we posted a blog from Emma Wilson, an undergraduate economics student here in Edinburgh, who spent some time working with Edinburgh Health Economics on a voluntary internship during the summer. This week we hear from a second student, Georgina, who also worked on a project with EHE. Georgina shares a bit about what she worked on and reflects on how she found the experience overall.
Name: Georgina Cotterill
Bio: “I completed the EHE internship in the summer of 2020. I graduated from the University of Edinburgh having studied a MA Economics and completing the Health Economics module run by Aileen Neilson and Elizabeth Lemmon. I am now pursuing an MSc Health Economics at the University of York.”
“The aim of the internship was to write a paper assessing the variability of resource use data collection and costing methods in recent HTA-funded primary research papers. Ridyard and Hughes conducted a systematic review of all 100 UK HTA-funded primary research papers published from January 2000 to June 2009 in order to assess just this. They concluded that economic data is variable and a standardized approach should be adopted in order to improve transparency and external validity between studies. The aim of my work was to assess whether there has been improvements in the variability of resource use data collection and costing since 2009. Hence, I conducted a systematic review of a randomly selected 25 papers which fitted the following eligibility criteria: to be a HTA Journal, to be a primary research study, to be a randomised control trial (RCT), and written in 2019.” Paper available here.
“The results of this review display a high variability in methods used across papers and no considerable alignment since Ridyard and Hughes study of HTA-funded primary research papers from 2000 to 2010. HTA studies are still over-reliant on patient-completed forms which are costly and suffer from biases. HTA studies are lacking important data collection exercises, such as piloting and validating data collection methods. Such exercises are fundamental to ensuring reliable data collection. Additionally, the methods in estimating costs still lack transparency and are not fully documented on. Improvements and standardisation are still required in order to achieve good practice in data collection methods among HTA-funded primary research papers.”
“The internship provided me with an excellent bridge from my undergraduate Health Economics studies to my Health Economics masters. As well as this, the internship offered me the opportunity to start thinking about what I had learnt about HE in a more applied and practical way.”
“I was unable to do anything related to the internship in person, due to the lockdown over the summer. This was a shame and it would have been great to go into the Usher Institute and talk to Aileen face-to-face. Of course, the lockdown affected many things and I am very pleased that I was able to do the internship at all.”
“I would absolutely recommend the EHE internship to others. If you enjoy and are interested in HE, this experience is a fantastic way of planning your career and / or further education and to verify what you really enjoy doing. It’s also wonderful to learn from experts in a field that you love.”
Project lead reflections
“I find it rather satisfying that the outcome of Georgina’s internship has been such a positive experience and that it appears to have been successful in allowing her to get to know if she really enjoyed health economics (after taking HE in the final year of her Econ UG degree) before committing to doing a Masters in Health Economics and picking up some transferable skills along the way. She did and she is! The latter currently at the University of York. Georgina was given a task, set of essential tools to investigate with, and the responsibly to produce her own bit work. She did very well in all aspects. Her exploratory review project of some recent literature on the subject of resource use data collection and costing methods used in more recent HTA-funded primary research provides a helpful ‘snapshot’ and ‘current state of play’, which would at least hint at that there may still yet be room to aspire to see further improvements in resource use data collection approaches, standardisation, transparency of reporting and good practices between studies… A much wider body of literature awaits to be explored! Well-done Georgina! All the very best for the future as your journey into health economics is only just starting. How exciting!” Aileen Neilson
This summer, after running our first undergraduate Health Economics module, a couple of enthusiastic economics students approached us to ask if there were any opportunities to get some work experience with Edinburgh Health Economics. Whilst we don’t run any formal internship schemes, we thought we could definitely think of some useful projects for the students to get involved with. In this post, one of those students talks to us about the work that she did during her voluntary internship and offers some reflections on how she found the experience overall.
Name: Emma Wilson
Bio:“I recently graduated (virtually!) in Economics from the University of Edinburgh in July 2020 and I am currently working as a Competition Economist for the Financial Conduct Authority. I have had a strong interest in Health Economics since I started working for the NHS in the first year of university in the holidays, and I then took the Health Economics course in fourth year solidifying my interest. My interest resulted in me writing a health/labour market dissertation about gender differences in wages due to health.”
“During my internship I have been working on part of the CORECT-R project. The project aims to create a UK wide Colorectal Cancer Intelligence Hub and identify the opportunities to impact on care to improve outcomes across the UK and provide evidence to guide interventions that will minimise inequalities and improve survival. I have specifically been working with Dr Elizabeth Lemmon on a report on costing methodology heterogeneity called ‘Validating costing methodologies used in the health economic literature of colorectal cancer’. You can view the report here.
The report looks at a cross-section of 20 papers of the most recent health economics literature on colorectal cancer. The studies are compared and contrasted against not only one another, but also against costing methodology criteria that has been laid out in a previous study on costing in health economics. It is concluded that due to ambiguity around costing methodologies and I suggest several ways in which the transparency around costing can be improved: studies should explicitly state whether they use micro, gross, top-down or bottom-up costing, providing clear evidence of how they do so; studies should also provide clarity in their computations and clearly state cost sources, and the identification process of costs used should be made clear. I suggest at the end of my report that a CHEERS type checklist for costing should be created in the future to ensure that costing methodologies are more homogeneous and allow for studies to be easily replicated and generalised.”
“During my internship my critical literature analysis skill have increased hugely from examining a large number of academic papers and examining them. My academic writing skills have also improved from the constant feedback loop I have had with Dr Lemmon. The autonomy that I have been given to work on the project has been something I have never had before, and I have enjoyed the accountability I have been able to take for my work. The internship has been a great opportunity, and I would highly recommend it to anyone else with an interest in health economics, or in improving their analysis or academic skills.”
Project lead reflections
“From our perspective, it was brilliant to have Emma on board to help with the costing methodologies used within the health economics literature on colorectal cancer. This is an area in which we have found significant heterogeneity and Emma’s work confirms and documents this. Her work will be extremely helpful for the project going forward. Overall, Emma was a pleasure to work with and she has really set the bar for future ‘interns’!” Elizabeth Lemmon