The invisible hands made visible: Recognizing the value of informal care in healthcare decision-making
The healthcare sector depends heavily on the informal care provided by families and friends of those who are ill. Informal caregivers may experience significant burden as well as health and well-being effects. Resource allocation decisions, in particular from a societal perspective, should account explicitly for these effects in the social environment of patients. This is not only important to make a complete welfare economic assessment of treatments, but also to ensure the lasting involvement of informal caregivers in the care-giving process. Measurement and valuation techniques for the costs and effects of informal care have been developed and their use is becoming more common. Decision-makers in healthcare - and eventually families and patients - would be helped by more uniformity in methods.