Health economic evaluations of sepsis interventions in critically ill adult patients: A systematic review

Alisa M. Higgins, Joanne E. Brooker, Michael MacKie, D. Jamie Cooper, Anthony H. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background : Sepsis is a global health priority. Interventions to reduce the burden of sepsis need to be both effective and cost-effective. We performed a systematic review of the literature on health economic evaluations of sepsis treatments in critically ill adult patients and summarised the evidence for cost-effectiveness. Methods: We systematically searched MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane Library using thesaurus (e.g. MeSH) and free-text terms related to sepsis and economic evaluations. We included all articles that reported, in any language, an economic evaluation of an intervention for the management of sepsis in critically ill adult patients. Data extracted included study details, intervention details, economic evaluation methodology, and outcomes. Included studies were appraised for reporting quality using the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) checklist. Results: We identified 50 records representing 46 economic evaluations for a variety of interventions including antibiotics (n = 5), fluid therapy (n = 2), early goal-directed therapy and other resuscitation protocols (n = 8), immunoglobulins (n = 2), and interventions no longer in clinical use such as monoclonal antibodies (n = 7) and drotrecogin alfa (n = 13). Twelve (26%) evaluations were of excellent reporting quality. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) ranged from dominant (lower costs and higher effectiveness) for early goal-directed therapy, albumin, and a multifaceted sepsis education program to dominated (higher costs and lower effectiveness) for polymerase chain reaction assays (LightCycler SeptiFast testing MGRADE®, SepsiTest™, and IRIDICA BAC BSI assay). ICERs varied widely across evaluations, particularly in subgroup analyses. Conclusions: There is wide variation in the cost-effectiveness of sepsis interventions. There remain important gaps in the literature, with no economic evaluations identified for several interventions routinely used in sepsis. Given the high economic and social burden of sepsis, high-quality economic evaluations are needed to increase our understanding of the cost-effectiveness of these interventions in routine clinical practice and to inform decision makers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intensive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2020


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Economic evaluation
  • Sepsis
  • Septic shock
  • Systematic review

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