A conceptual-framework for the economic-evaluation of substance-abuse interventions
Substance abuse treatment directors and policymakers often must allocate limited budgets among several alternative substance abuse treatment programs. Decisionmakers can gain insight on these difficult budgeting decisions by using economic evaluation techniques. To aid in the economic evaluation, a conceptual framework based on a decision-tree model was developed. The framework describes substance abuse addiction and treatment dynamics and highlights important therapeutic and economic endpoints. Within this framework, the authors describe how cost-effectiveness and benefit-cost analyses can be used to compare the costs and outcomes of alternative substance abuse intervention programs. Implementation of the conceptual framework requires detailed information on the parameters of the substance abuse addiction and treatment process that does not yet exist. But the paper includes a detailed example of how the conceptual framework can be used to perform economic evaluation of alternative substance abuse intervention programs. The paper demonstrates how economic evaluation can be used in conjunction with a decision-tree model to provide researchers and policymakers with the tools to make informed decisions about the allocation of scarce resources.