Journal of Statistical Theory and Practice

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 428–442 | Cite as

Median-Based Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER)

  • Heejung BangEmail author
  • Hongwei Zhao


Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) is a type of economic evaluation that examines the costs and health outcomes of alternative strategies and has been extensively applied in health sciences. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), which represents the additional cost of one unit of outcome gained by one strategy compared with another, has become a popular methodology in CEA. Despite its popularity, limited attention has been paid to summary measures other than the mean for summarizing cost as well as effectiveness in the context of CEA. Although some apparent advantages of other central tendency measures, such as median for cost data that are often highly skewed, are well understood, thus far, the median has rarely been considered in the ICER. In this paper, we propose the median-based ICER, along with inferential procedures, and suggest that mean- and median-based ICERs be considered together as complementary tools in CEA for informed decision making, acknowledging the pros and cons of each. If the mean-and median-based CEAs are concordant, we may feel reasonably confident about the cost-effectiveness of an intervention, but if they provide different results, our confidence may need to be adjusted accordingly, pending further evidence.

AMS Subject Classification

62G09 62-07 62P20 


Cost-effectiveness analysis Cost-effectiveness plane Mean cost Median cost 


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Copyright information

© Grace Scientific Publishing 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of BiostatisticsDepartment of Public Health Sciences, University of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Rural Public HealthTexas A&M Health Science CenterCollege StationUSA

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