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A critique of the World Health Organisation's evaluation of health system performance


Richardson, J and Robertson, IK and Wildman, J, A critique of the World Health Organisation's evaluation of health system performance, Health Economics, 12, (5) pp. 355-366. ISSN 1057-9230 (2003) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1002/hec.761


The World Health Organisation's (WHO) approach to the measurement of health system efficiency is briefly described. Four arguments are then presented. First, equity of finance should not be a criterion for the evaluation of a health system and, more generally, the same objectives and importance weights should not be imposed upon all countries. Secondly, the numerical value of the importance weights do not reflect their true importance in the country rankings. Thirdly, the model for combining the different objectives into a single index of system performance is problematical and alternative models are shown to alter system rankings. The WHO statistical analysis is replicated and used to support the fourth argument which is that, contrary to the author's assertion, their methods cannot separate true inefficiency from random error. The procedure is also subject to omitted variable bias. Country rankings based upon the model are correspondingly unreliable. It is concluded that, despite these problems, the study is a landmark in the evolution of system evaluation, but one which requires significant revision.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Evaluation of health outcomes
UTAS Author:Robertson, IK (Dr Iain Robertson)
ID Code:34431
Year Published:2003
Web of Science® Times Cited:36
Deposited By:Health Sciences A
Deposited On:2005-07-27
Last Modified:2010-06-18

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