Health Technology Assessment

Module code: MD7449
Module coordinators: Alex Sutton, Nicola Cooper

Health Technology Assessment (HTA) attempts to answer the following questions about new health technologies including drugs, medical equipment, diagnostic techniques and public health programmes:

  • Does the technology work?
  • For whom (does it work)?
  • At what cost?
  • How does it compares with the alternatives (in particular current clinical practice)?

This module provides an introduction to the methods used in HTA, in particular the synthesis of evidence beyond a pairwise meta-analysis and development of an economic decision model to assess cost-effectiveness.

If you select this option you will attend two teaching weeks on Advanced Evidence Synthesis and Decision Modelling.

Advanced Evidence Synthesis

The week will start with a review of basic meta-analysis for different outcomes. You will then use a Bayesian implementation of meta-analysis and meta-regression methods, using the WinBUGS software and discuss the advantages of using this approach. More advanced methods which we will look at include meta-analysis methods for the evaluation of diagnostic tests, and mixed treatment comparisons (or network meta-analysis) which is a very important generalisation of the standard meta-analysis model increasingly used in HTA when more than two alternative treatment options exist.

Decision Modelling

This week will start by outlining the motivation for, and principles of, decision modelling. We will look at clinical decision models (weighing up benefits and side-effects of treatments) and at economic decision models (assessing cost-effectiveness), examining first simple decision trees and then Markov models. 

After considering the basic principles of decision modelling, we will investigate methods for estimating individual parameters for such models, including the integration of meta-analyses with decision models. Given that there is usually (considerable) uncertainty in any decision problem, we will explore the comparative value of information methods to assess whether conducting further studies to reduce this uncertainty would provide good value for money. The week will conclude with a demonstration of some of the research carried out at the University of Leicester.


  • 20 one-hour lectures
  • 22 one-hour practical sessions


  • Advanced Evidence Synthesis Coursework (50%)
  • Decision Modelling Coursework (50%)