Social interventions to support people with disability: a systematic review of economic evaluation studies

Bernice Hua Ma, Samia Badji, Dennis Petrie, Gwynnyth Llewellyn, Gang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Social interventions are essential in supporting the health and well-being of people with disability, but there is a critical need to prioritise resources for those that provide the best value for money. Economic evaluation is a widely used tool to assist priority setting when resources are scarce. However, the scope and consistency of economic evaluation evidence for disability social services are unclear, making it hard to compare across interventions to guide funding decisions. This systematic review aims to summarise the current evidence in the economic evaluation of social services for people with disability and to critically compare the methodologies used in conducting the economic evaluations with a focus on the outcomes and costs. We searched seven databases for relevant studies published from January 2005 to October 2021. Data were extracted on study characteristics such as costs, outcomes, perspectives, time horizons and intervention types. Overall, economic evaluation evidence of social services for people with disability was scarce. Twenty-four economic evaluations were included, with the majority conducting a cost-effectiveness analysis (n = 16). Most interventions focused on employment (n = 10), followed by community support and independent living (n = 6). Around 40% of the studies addressed people with mental illnesses (n = 10). The evidence was mixed on whether the interventions were costeffective but the methods used were highly variable, which made comparisons across studies very difficult. More economic evidence on the value of interventions is needed as well as a more standardised and transparent approach for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0278930
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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