The Dictionary of Health Economics, Third Edition
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The Dictionary of Health Economics, Third Edition

Anthony J. Culyer

This third edition of Anthony Culyer’s authoritative The Dictionary of Health Economics brings the material right up to date as well as adding plentiful amounts of new information, with a number of revised definitions. There are now nearly 3,000 entries in this comprehensive work. This third edition includes 250 new references as sources for definitions and examples of practice and the bibliography comprises roughly 1,400 items. Anthony Culyer has refined and made the system of cross-references and internet links even more comprehensive than in previous editions. This Dictionary is as complete a statement as exists anywhere of what it is that every health economist ought to know.
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Preface to the Second Edition

Anthony J. Culyer

The second edition of The Dictionary of Health Economics improves upon the first in what I hope will be agreed to be several respects. Its general purposes remain, however, the same as before: to be as Thomas the tank engine was in the eyes of the Fat Controller – a really useful engine. There is now much greater use to be made of internet search engines than was hitherto the case, so there seemed little point in merely listing what was readily available through that means. What I hope adds value to the Dictionary is that I have scrutinized definitions elsewhere and recast them so that they conform better to the idea of ‘definition’: to provide a definiens for each definiendum that is concise, precise, bounded, and in conformity with (what I perceive as) correct or at least customary usage. The outcome ought to be more reliable definitions and elaborations. In addition, I have selected what I reckon to be good examples from the literature to illustrate the headwords and phrases in, so to speak, action, and I have provided full references for them. The combination of these two qualities of accuracy and example is not readily to be had from the internet – at least not without some fairly extensive searching. It is plain that I have also had to exercise a fair degree of subjective judgment. Being aware of this, and having a reasonable sense of the matters on which health economists (and others) are likely to take up arms, I have tried to be even-handed when it comes to politically loaded notions and to avoid culturally or geographically biased concentrations of empirical interest. The principal changes from the first edition are these:

I have corrected several mistakes and removed as many ambiguities as I could find or that have been pointed out to me.

I have removed a few repetitious entries and edited down some of the verbosity. I have also removed one or two entries whose levity did not serve a serious purpose (while retaining those whose levity did so serve).

I have hugely increased the number of entries – from 1586 in the first edition to 2310 in this. Quite a few of these have been terms that are pertinent but not particular to economics and, as before, I have tried to give the reader a reasonable idea of what the term entails and how it is used without attempting to reach the standard of diligence that might be expected in, for example, dictionaries of accounting, cognitive psychology, epidemiology, ethics, finance or statistics. I trust, as before, that the inhabitants of these foreign but neighbourly terrains will not be offended at this attempt of an alien to explain them to other strangers.

p. xI have provided a comprehensive bibliography of over 1000 published items, with the intentions of both guiding the reader towards the source of a key idea and of providing helpful illustrations of a principle or of an idea as used in a relevant (mostly applied) context. This has also served to rectify what I felt to have been a deficiency in the first edition, namely the absence of explicit mention of many of the household names of health economics. They are now there in abundance, as are the names of many of the aforesaid neighbourly foreigners. I have not gone so far as to provide biographies and only dead people get dates. One cannot help but be astonished at the huge number of people who would now be counted as health economists – and I am sure that I have not used the work of what may well be the majority of those who are active in the field today – in contrast to the (say) couple of baker’s dozens of us who were active worldwide when I began to be interested in the subject in the late 1960s.

A consequence of this is that it now seems appropriate to have separate subject and names indices. While I have avoided using the names of drugs, clinical devices, diseases, countries or other jurisdictions as headwords, the subject index picks up any such nouns whether they occur in the definitions or in the bibliography.

I have expanded the number of headwords and phrases that relate to the health economics of poor and middle-income countries, as well as referring to the now more extensive literature that is available.

I have increased the number of cross-references and used them more consistently. Cross-references now exist to most closely related terms, contrasts and antonyms. In the case of synonyms I have given cross-references to a main entry.

In view of the astonishing growth in the number of cost-effectiveness analysis studies, I have provided an appendix listing 100 well-conducted such studies covering a wide variety of conditions and circumstances. Virtually every one of them is a testament to the collaborations that have become possible between economists, clinicians, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, ethicists and others with relevant skills. These are illustrative of the range of application and supplement many references in the main entries to CEA studies that are useful for illustrating a specific issue. They may also be a helpful list for teachers. The list also provides many names that do not appear elsewhere in the Dictionary for anyone wishing to make contact with a skilled practitioner in this ambitious combination of applied sciences, economics and social ethics.

I am conscious of a particular bias that is always hard to eradicate, namely that arising from the general character of one’s own interests and work in a field. It has not been my intention to emphasize some topics in p. xihealth economics, or some ways of approaching them, arbitrarily more than others. Some readers may nonetheless detect such a bias. For this reason and many others, and as was the case with the previous edition, I welcome corrections and any other suggestions for improvement. Either of these addresses will serve to find me: tony.culyer@utoronto.ca and ajc17@york.ac.uk.