What are journal editors looking for from health economists?

2 min read
First Published: 
Sep 2012

For most researchers (of any clinical denomination), the manuscript submission process is fraught with more questions than answers.

Christine Laine, MD, MPH, senior deputy editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine, says that the most important advice for health economists wanting to submit their research to clinical journals is to remember the journal’s audience. Specifically, she says:

  • Relate the findings to outcomes: clinical outcomes are important to clinicians, so any article published in the Annals should reflect this. Any HE article should take the societal perspective and results should be expressed in cost/quality-adjust life-year, not cost/hospitalisation averted or cost/cancer case detected, for example.
  • Avoid any cutoff figure: any cutoff for an intervention to be considered ‘cost effective’ in HE circles may not be such a clear distinction in clinical discourse and should not be part of the discussion in a research article.
  • Use as little jargon as possible: if you must use HE-related terms, provide the definition within the article text.
  • Make the methods transparent: the Annals of Internal Medicine reviewers look for assumption models created from a systematic literature review (rather than a single source), which should be cited. Also, make the model available to others, to determine if the results can be repeated.
  • Use a multi-way probabilistic sensitivity analysis: these types of analyses are considered to be more scientifically rigorous and aretherefore preferred.
  • Use the structure provided by the journals: the Annals provides a specific structure for the abstract and body of HE-related articles. Authors should follow those instructions.

As a top-tier journal, the Annals of Internal Medicine publishes only 6% of the manuscripts it receives, and most of the HE-related articles are cost-effectiveness analyses that affect healthcare policy decisions.

Dr. Laine says that HE research will interest clinicians if the work is placed in a context that is relevant to clinicians’ priorities.

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Mary Gabb
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