Valuing Patient and Caregiver Time: A Review of the Literature
Jennifer E. Tranmer
Denise N. Guerriere
Wendy J. Ungar
Peter C. Coyte
As healthcare expenditures continue to rise, financial pressures have resulted in a desire for countries to shift resources away from_ traditional areas of spending. The consequent devolution and reform have resulted in increased care being provided and received within homes and communities, and in an increased reliance on unpaid caregivers. Recent empirical work indicates that costs incurred by care recipients and unpaid caregivers, including time and productivity costs, often account for significant proportions of total healthcare expenditures. However, many economic evaluations do not include these costs. Moreover, when indirect costs are assessed, the methods of valuation are inconsistent and frequently controversial. This paper provides an overview and critique of existing valuation methods. Current methods such as the human capital method, friction cost method and the Washington Panel approach are presented and critiqued according to criteria such as potential for inaccuracy, ease of application, and ethical and distributional concerns. The review illustrates the depth to which the methods have been theoretically examined, and highlights a paucity of research on costs that accrue to unpaid caregivers and a lack of research on time lost from unpaid labour and leisure. To ensure accurate and concise reporting of all time costs, it is concluded that a broad conceptual approach for time costing should be developed that draws on and then expands upon theoretical work to date.
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