Health Economics and Economic Evaluation – Niklas Zethraeus' group

Health economics may be defined as a sub-discipline of economics and involves the application of theories and methods of economics on the topics health and health care. This research-group is doing research within health economics with a focus on health economic evaluation.

Blocks with icons representing health and healthcare stacked on top of each other like a pyramid.

Health economic evaluation may be defined as ”the comparative analysis of alternative courses of action in terms of both their costs and consequences” and is used to provide guidance for decisions aiming at improving the efficiency of the allocation of resources to improve health.

Research is also performed in behavioral economics, a research area based in economics and psychology. Behavioral economics studies economic decision making in experiments in order to improve the explanatory and predictive power of economic models. Ongoing projects are multidisciplinary in economics, health and medicine.

Education is a significant part of the activities of the research group, where the Master's Programme in Health Economics, Policy and Management plays a major role.

Research in the media

A study, published in Fertility and Sterility, conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with the Stockholm School of Economics shows that one of the most common combined oral contraceptive pills has a negative impact on women’s quality of life. Read more about the study Oral contraceptives reduce general well-being in healthy women.

In a previous study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2016, Niklas Zethraeus and co-authors show that oral contraceptives have no negative impact on overall sexual function, although three (desire, arousal, and pleasure) of seven sexual function domains were adversely affected.

What we do

Health Economic Evaluation

Back pain

Back pain is associated with major costs for the patient, health care system and society. Although there are many different treatments available, there is a great need for further studies in this area investigating costs and which back pain treatments that are effective and cost-effective.

The overall aim of the research project is to improve the knowledge on the costs of back pain, and to explore the effectiveness, costs and cost-effectiveness of different treatment strategies for back pain. In particular, the focus will be on patients with long-term chronic low back pain.

A published study in collaboration with Department of Clinical Neuroscience, show that individuals with back pain, compared to a group without back pain, had increased productivity losses (Productivity losses among people with back pain and among population-based references: a register-based study in Sweden). 

Callers usually follow the telenurses' recommendations

In a collaboration with NVS (Anna Carin Wahlberg) and CNS (Korinna Karampampa), our research group has published the study ”Observational study of the implementation of telephone advice nursing in Sweden: did callers follow recommendations and did the rate of healthcare visits change? ” in BMJ Open.

The study shows that callers to a telephone advice nursing service (1177) (in Jönköping County Region, Sweden) to a high extent followed the telenurses' recommendations and that the introduction of telephone advice nursing may have contributed to a shift in the rate of healthcare visits from secondary to primary care.

Behavioral Economics


In a research project in collaboration with the Women´s Health Research Unit, Karolinska University Hospital (Solna), and the Stockholm School of Economics we explore the effects of oral contraceptives on women’s health-related quality of life, and behavior using a double-blind study design. 340 participants fill out questionnaires on health related quality of life at baseline and after 3 months of treatment. After treatment they also take part in an economic experiment on decision-making, including tests of altruism, financial risk taking and willingness to compete. Additionally we will also study menstrual cycle effects on health related quality of life and behavior.


Selected publications


Master's Programme in Health Economics, Policy and Management

The Master's Programme in Health Economics, Policy and Management consists of two years’ full time studies in the second cycle (Master’s level), amounting to 120 credits. The programme provides an opportunity for students to develop theoretical and practical skills for analysing health and healthcare issues from an organisational and a policy perspective. 

Health economics focuses on the financing of health care, the methods for economic evaluation of health care technologies and on the measurement and valuation of health. Policy contains planning for health and methods for the development, implementation and analysis of policy in the health care system while management focuses on methods for health and medical care management. 

More information.

Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology