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Arnold, Matthias (2017): Simulation modeling for stratified breast cancer screening - a systematic review of cost and quality of life assumptions. In: BMC Health Services Research 17:802


Background: The economic evaluation of stratified breast cancer screening gains momentum, but produces also very diverse results. Systematic reviews so far focused on modeling techniques and epidemiologic assumptions. However, cost and utility parameters received only little attention. This systematic review assesses simulation models for stratified breast cancer screening based on their cost and utility parameters in each phase of breast cancer screening and care. Methods: A literature review was conducted to compare economic evaluations with simulation models of personalized breast cancer screening. Study quality was assessed using reporting guidelines. Cost and utility inputs were extracted, standardized and structured using a care delivery framework. Studies were then clustered according to their study aim and parameters were compared within the clusters. Results: Eighteen studies were identified within three study clusters. Reporting quality was very diverse in all three clusters. Only two studies in cluster 1, four studies in cluster 2 and one study in cluster 3 scored high in the quality appraisal. In addition to the quality appraisal, this review assessed if the simulation models were consistent in integrating all relevant phases of care, if utility parameters were consistent and methodological sound and if cost were compatible and consistent in the actual parameters used for screening, diagnostic work up and treatment. Of 18 studies, only three studies did not show signs of potential bias. Conclusion: This systematic review shows that a closer look into the cost and utility parameter can help to identify potential bias. Future simulation models should focus on integrating all relevant phases of care, using methodologically sound utility parameters and avoiding inconsistent cost parameters.