Background The objective of this study was to review methodological quality of economic evaluations of lifestyle behavior change interventions (LBCIs) and to examine how they address methodological challenges for public health economic evaluation identified in the literature. Methods Pubmed and the NHS economic evaluation database were searched for published studies in six key areas for behavior change: smoking, physical activity, dietary behavior, (illegal) drug use, alcohol use and sexual behavior. From included studies (n ¼ 142), we extracted data on general study characteristics, characteristics of the LBCIs, methodological quality and handling of methodological challenges. Results Economic evaluation evidence for LBCIs showed a number of weaknesses: methods, study design and characteristics of evaluated interventions were not well reported; methodological quality showed several shortcomings and progress with addressing methodological challenges remained limited. Conclusions Based on the findings of this review we propose an agenda for improving future evidence to support decision-making. Recommendations for practice include improving reporting of essential study details and increasing adherence with good practice standards. Recommendations for research methods focus on mapping out complex causal pathways for modeling, developing measures to capture broader domains of wellbeing and community outcomes, testing methods for considering equity, identifying relevant non-health sector costs and advancing methods for evidence synthesis.

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Keywords cost effectiveness, methods, public health
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Journal Journal of Public Health
Goebbels, A.F.G, Evers, S.M.A.A, Alexeeva, D, Ament, A.J.H.A, de Vries, N.K, Tilly, J.C, & Severens, J.L. (2014). A review of economic evaluations of behavior change interventions: setting an agenda for research methods and practice. Journal of Public Health, 36(2), 336–344. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdt080