The time horizon used for an economic evaluation is the duration over which health outcomes and costs are calculated. The choice of time horizon is an important decision for economic modelling, and depends on the nature of the disease and intervention under consideration and the purpose of the analysis. Longer time horizons are applicable to chronic conditions associated with on-going medical management, rather than a cure. A shorter time horizon may be appropriate for some acute conditions, for which long-term consequences are less important. The same time horizon should be used for both costs and health outcomes. A lifetime horizon is preferred by UK NICE, although it may be useful in sensitivity analysis to test out intermediate time-horizons of 5 to 10 years, for which there may be more robust data. Use of a long-term time horizon is likely to involve extrapolating cohort experience into the future and making assumptions about continued efficacy of interventions. In modelling terms, this may require projection forward of current health states and costs of care estimating transitions between health states and associated health outcomes and costs at time points over the period, as well as discounting of future costs and health outcomes.

How to cite: Time Horizon [online]. (2016). York; York Health Economics Consortium; 2016. https://www.yhec.co.uk/glossary/time-horizon/

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