There seems to be a general agreement amongst practitioners of economic evaluations, including Health Technology Assessment, that the explicit statement of a perspective is a necessary element in designing and reporting research. Moreover, there seems also to be a general presumption that the ideal perspective is “societal”. In this paper we endorse the first principle but dissent from the second. A review of recommended perspectives is presented. The societal perspective is frequently not the one recommended. The societal perspective is shown to be less comprehensive than is commonly supposed, is inappropriate in many contexts and, in any case, is in general not a perspective to be determined independently of the context of a decision problem. Moreover, the selection of a perspective, societal or otherwise, is not the prerogative of analysts.


CEA; HTA; patients’ preferences.; perspective; reference case; social value judgments; stakeholder

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